Consuming issues

Consuming issues

In a regular column, just-food contributing editor Ben Cooper chews over how the industry is tackling issues from obesity to labelling and from child labour to its environmental impact.



Consuming issues: Elliott puts FSA back in the spotlight 8 Sep 2014

Amid the headlines about the UK's plan to set up a food crime unit, Professor Chris Elliott's full report into the UK supply chain has reignited what was a fierce debate - the role of the Food Standards Agency, writes Ben Cooper.


Consuming issues: The hunger-obesity paradox 26 Aug 2014

It may seem cruelly ironic the UK faces what is frequently dubbed an "obesity epidemic" while hospital admissions for malnutrition have risen by 19% over the past year. Ironic perhaps, but not surprising. Ben Cooper argues food education and cooking skills would be a simple measure to tackle the issue.


Consuming issues: No candy-coated arguments at sugar summit 14 Jul 2014

Last week, medical professionals, industry representatives, policy advisors and others gathered in London to discuss the health impacts of sugar consumption and what government and food companies can do to mitigate them. Ben Cooper was there.


Consuming issues: Oxfam as industry's "critical friend" 30 Jun 2014

Oxfam's latest analysis of the food industry's efforts on to tackle climate change demonstrates how the NGO can partner with industry at time but still play a role in handing out stinging criticism where necessary, Ben Cooper believes.


Consuming issues: Why understanding food wastage is vital 28 May 2014

The considerable attention given to the topic of food wastage over the past couple of years has ensured the issue has grown both in public awareness and also as a priority for companies and policymakers seeking to make the global food system more sustainable.


Consuming issues: Seven a day, no fooling 10 Apr 2014

The latest intervention in the diet and health debate in the UK hit the headlines on 1 April. It was not an April Fool but the findings of research from University College London that we should be eating seven portions of fruit or veg a day may have prompted a wry smile from those who struggle to get near the 'five-a-day' recommendation.


Consuming issues: WHO influence on sugar may be stronger 12 Mar 2014

Some campaigners believe the WHO's new guidance on sugar intake did not go far enough and are concerned the organisation will face lobbying from industry. Food manufacturers insist there is no scientific evidence to halve the recommendation from 10% of daily energy to 5%. Governments can, of course, ignore any new guidance. However, Ben Cooper argues the debate around public health and diet has changed and could make the WHO a more influential voice.


Consuming issues: Tacon's role broader than she thinks 6 Feb 2014

In London this week, UK Groceries Code Adjudicator Christine Tacon outlined what her position was - and was not - set up to do. However, Ben Cooper argues her role has wider implications than policing the relationship between retailers and their suppliers.


Consuming issues: Battle lines drawn over added sugar 15 Jan 2014

The leading health experts behind the Action on Sugar campaign, launched last week, believe the success in driving down salt intake in the UK following the launch of the Consensus Action on Salt and Health campaign can be replicated with sugar. Ben Cooper has his doubts.


Consuming issues: Why Wilmar palm oil move is good news 13 Dec 2013

The upbeat response to the most recent announcement concerning the sustainability of palm oil owes little to such cultural pre-programming or seasonal hyperbole. The commitment to the sustainable production and sourcing of palm oil made by Wilmar International is, quite simply, extremely good news, writes Ben Cooper.


Consuming issues: A taxing question 14 Nov 2013

As it has done elsewhere, the food industry is opposing the imposition of a tax on sugary drinks and high-calorie foods in Mexico. The industry has been generally successful in forestalling the imposition of nutrient taxes and its reasons for opposition - such taxes are ineffective and regressive - carry some weight. But when industry is seen to have prevailed in debates purely by dint of massive lobbying power, issues of trust and credibility inevitably arise.


Consuming issues - Obama anti-obesity drive still moving 7 Oct 2013

Children's food advertising is no longer on the Obama policy agenda but the administration is still actively engaged on the issue, as last month's event at the White House demonstrates.


Consuming issues: Salmon industry CSR scheme should be welcomed 22 Aug 2013

The Global Salmon Initiative (GSI), a joint commitment to raising sustainability standards signed by 15 major producers of farmed salmon, has been hailed as a game changer. Ben Cooper casts his eye over the new accord.


Consuming issues: Industry ignores WHO chief's attack on Big Food 12 Jul 2013

The World Health Organization's combative director-general has publicly hit out at the "business interests" of what she calls "Big Food", which, she claims presents a "daunting challenge" to improving public health. As Ben Cooper reports, the food industry has chosen not to respond.


Consuming issues: UK reaches tipping-point on FOP labels 20 Jun 2013

The debate over what form front-of-pack nutrition labels should take in the UK has taken a significant stride to being closed, with over 60% of the market agreeing to use a new label that does include traffic lights. Not every household name will use the label but Ben Cooper argues the refuseniks will now be firmly in the campaigners' firing line.


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