VEGA News Item

Consultation on Saturated Fat and Energy Intake - 19/06/2007
VEGA's response to the FSA consultation on the Draft Saturated Fat and Energy Intake Programme
Below is VEGA's response to the FSA consultation on the Draft Saturated Fat and Energy Intake Programme:

1. Our Green Plan for farming, food, health, and the land tackles joined-up farm-to-fork principles in meeting the objectives you mention for consultation. They are being put into practice already but now reinforced by accumulating messages aimed at the ethical shopper (and consumer) and at the many coherent indications from campaigners on environmental issues and the wellbeing of all animals, human and non-human. Our pets and companion animals, as well as those exploited in the food chain, have to be “condition scored” and require dietary attention just like us. The South Karelia Project in Finland running since the 1970s, offers an invaluable example of countering the harm done by excessive intakes of animal fats (mainly from the dairy/beef/veal industry) and means of reversing the trend by changes in farming and ingenuity in developing new foods, such as Benecol and commodities rich in phytosterols and phytoestrogens (which are perhaps misleadingly named).

2. Accordingly, our website offers each week a recipe for a meal in the Portfolio style. We are arranging for each one to be assessed as it is published for its nutrient content and it will be given profiling in the manner of an FSA assessment. We are commending this practice to food and cookery writers and we are urging food producers and agricultural experts to cater for corresponding feasible changes in farming practice and marketing.

3. The Finns had the advantage of CAP support for intervention buying, which led to huge butter mountains expensively refrigerated and finally sold off cheap to hapless consumers in Eastern Europe. In the UK, the CAP provisions, having been changed, tardy introductions of low-fat liquid milks and yoghurts secured some of the desired reduction, but the excess fat and other by-products and co-products have been directed into added-value forms such as cheese, biscuits, cakes, confectionery, and icecream, all buttered up to levels of fat content that attract the FSA’s objection. No amount of genetic manipulation has produced the cow who yields milk with the fat content at the semi-skilled level and adjusts her output of milk and calves to suit the requirements of the dairy/beef/veal industry. Your “key proposals” need to be soundly based on readings of the continuing Finnish example and the running commentary in the British context that we have maintained on our website.

4. Nutritional and medical authorities have combined in recommendations for dietary changes for “Salutary Food from Salubrious Farming” that inspire trends given practicable effect in a Portfolio of Eating Plans. They also heed the unequivocal advocacy from Ben Bradshaw MP, a DEFRA Minister, that Britons should consume less meat and milk. Substitutions with fish intakes introduce several reservations, but alternative plant-derived “dairy” products with various benefits are becoming a welcome entrant into dietary reform in the UK. The reforms can also combine nicely with linked changes in dietary patterns in which intakes of salt and sugar feature in concern over junk foods. The degraded Standards in plow-to-plate food production and foodservice and the lowly status of many workers unequally trying to apply at least the regimens of Safety according to HACCP manifest the evils in falsely cheap food. Ethical, Enlightened shoppers and consumers must lead the way by showing a willingness to pay more for wholesome food. The Portfolio of Eating Plans has been assessed and practised against drugs such as statins in the control of cardiovascular risks. Poor people need every support in choice and discrimination for wholesome food. They deserve help in the form of vouchers for the purchase of truly “healthy” commodities.

5. Education in a sound and interesting way, without the distractions of celebrities, could feature in courses on citizenship in the extra year added to school curricula. The full significance of food in wellbeing could be taught in an objective and stimulating way, if only to arouse reading the information on labels – beyond the price of the goods.

6. With such a background shoppers should be edged away from the objectionable fatty products by imposition (or increase) of VAT on foods (and feeds) derived from animals.

7. The drive on dietary fats must generate a positive view that embraces saturated, unsaturated and trans-fats and the broader view of the production, processing, marketing, interest, consumption, and enjoyment of food and its significance in our culture.  

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