UK and Dutch to share government-industry expertise on nutrition

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food standards agency Nutrition

UK and Dutch food agencies are set to put their heads together over
how government and private sector can work together to address diet
and nutritional issues.

The Dutch Food and Consumer Product Authority, with funding from the UK's Food Standards Agency, is organising a seminar in The Netherlands on November 30, which will draw comparisons between the two countries' approaches.

Collaboration over food and nutritional policy between European countries is particularly pertinent at the present time, with several key piece of EU legislation set to come into force in the near future - such as the nutrition and health claims and food fortification regulations.

Moreover the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) has pledged greater focus on nutrition; part of this will be discharging its role in evaluating health claims.

Within the food sector, there is increasing emphasis on health and wellness, and governments are well aware of the vital role of nutrition in maintaining health - and thus keeping a reign on health care budgets.

Lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes are rife in the Western world. A major report published by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in May reviewed food and dietary trends in The Netherlands and concluded that addressing unhealthy diets would have a major impact on public health.

An unhealthy diet (such as insufficient consumption of fish, fruit and vegetables and too many trans and saturated fatty acids) is said to reduce the average life expectancy of Dutch 40 year-olds by 1.2 years, and obesity by 0.8 years.

The report was praised by Herman Koëter, acting executive director of the EFSA, who said it will be "a leading document in Europe and probably beyond when it comes to making risk-benefit analyses of our food and diets".

Earlier this month Markos Kyprianou, European Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner, told delegates at the CIAA Congress in Brussels that he wanted to recognise food companies that are addressing obesity.

Kyprianou set up the EU Platform on Diet, Physical Activity and Health nearly two years ago with the aim of creating a forum for action at the European level.

With companies such as Kellogg introducing measures to show legislators that self-regulation works, the platform has been seen as a largely positive step in the right direction. The idea is to work under the leadership of the European Commission and to provide an example, which others will choose to follow across Europe, of coordinated but autonomous action by different parts of society to deal with the many aspects of the problem.

The seminar, to take place at the International Press Centre in Nieuwspoort, is called 'Signalling Change - working with the private food sector in improving nutrition'. Policy advisors and decision makers from business, government and the science community within the UK, Netherlands and European organisations will be in attendance.

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