Cabinet Office food policy
Sustain has taken a keen interest in the development of the Cabinet Office Strategy Unit review of food policy, publised in July 2008. This page records recent activity on this issue. For enquiries about this material, contact Sustain's coordinator Jeanette Longfield, email@example.com.
Summer 2008The Cabinet Office Strategy Unit published its much anticipated paper ‘Food Matters’ on 7 July. The report, available from: www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/strategy/work_areas/food_policy.aspx, is potentially significant in Whitehall and attempts to set a course for food and farming policy over the next 20 years.
The report paints a stark picture of the current failings of the food and farming system, both damage to the environment and to individuals’ health. It also recognises that the market alone will not provide a more socially and environmentally sustainable food and farming system and calls for a food strategy task force, chaired by a civil servant of Permanent Secretary rank, to oversee this shift. It also calls for the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to see sustainability as a core part of its remit, echoing a call that Sustain has made for many years.
However, the report’s policy recommendations failed to match the rigour of its analysis, so the major proposal was a voluntary Healthy Food mark available to public sector caterers showing that a meal was both healthy and sustainable. The policy recommendations seem neutered because the report is unable to square this circle: it recognises that the market cannot solve the problems caused by global agribusiness, but the Government’s policy imperative remains to ensure a global competitive market in food.
The Cabinet Office report formed the background to the annual joint meeting of Sustain's Council and staff held in July 2008. This was pertinent, given that several Council members had been involved with the Cabinet Office consultation, review and expert advisory processes.
Spring 2008Sustain submitted a brief response to the Unit’s analysis of the current food and farming system, published in January. It was based on our existing, well-supported policy proposals in a number of areas - such as on children’s food and on public procurement.
Sustain also attended, along with others, two follow-up meetings held by the Strategy Unit to further explore a range of policy options.