Public procurement must drive sustainable diets: health experts

UK health professionals have called for mandatory environmental labelling of food and amendments to the public procurement rules for catering to help shift people towards more sustainable diets.

The UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, which includes 10 Royal Colleges of medicine and nursing, the British Medical Association and the Lancet, made the recommendations in a new report published this week.

“Changing the way that we both produce and consume food is essential if we are to mitigate climate change. Failure to act quickly will heighten existing national health challenges, place undue financial strain on the NHS, and worsen health inequalities both within the UK and internationally,” UKHACC said.

It also called for a cross-departmental, ministerial working group to bring together thinking on food
and farming, health, climate change and trade.

The introduction of a carbon tax on all food producers should also be considered. “Government should signal that it intends to move in this direction if voluntary action on the full climate impact of food products is not taken by the food industry by 2025,” the report noted.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee this week held its first oral evidence session as part of its inquiry into Public Sector Procurement of Food.

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