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.
10 April 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.
12 March 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.
6 February 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.
15 January 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.
13 December 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.
14 November 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.
7 October 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.
22 August 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.
12 July 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.
20 June 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.
24 May 2013
The problem of food waste is due to the low value people in the West put on cheap food. And cheap food is a product, in part, of the modern, industrial food system. However, amid some scepticism, the industry is trying to act on the problem. Ben Cooper argues, ultimately, the dynamics of supply and demand will right the situation.
25 April 2013
The GM debate has re-emerged in the UK in the last couple of weeks with the news four major supermarket operators will allow their suppliers to use GM feed for poultry and eggs.
3 April 2013
Hershey's commitment to source 100% of its cocoa requirements from third-party-certified sources by 2020 has been broadly welcomed. However, what form that certification will take is unclear and is likely to remain so until the cocoa sector at large agrees sustainability standards and evolves the means to certify a huge amount of cocoa.
26 February 2013
The suggestion this weekend from German development minister Dirk Niebel that food products containing horsemeat should be distributed to the poor reminds us that, while indicative of a glaring lack of scrutiny on the part of food companies, the horsemeat scandal has represented no danger to human health to date.
21 January 2013
Today (21 January) sees Barack Obama's second inauguration as President of the United States, an appropriate juncture to look ahead to what the next four years may have in store in terms of US food policy.
8 November 2012
With nutrient taxes recently attracting media attention in a number of countries, Ben Cooper reflects on how the food and beverage industry might react to the heightened debate.
24 October 2012
The Food and Drink Federation (FDF), which represents UK food manufacturers, shows little sign of relinquishing its dogged support of a system based solely on percentage of guideline daily amounts (GDAs), writes Ben Cooper.
29 September 2012
This summer's dispute of UK dairy prices shows how the debate over how farmers are treated can reach the developed markets of the north, writes Ben Cooper.
24 August 2012
The unexpected announcement by Tesco that it will incorporate colour-coding, or 'traffic lights', into its front-of-pack nutritional labelling surprised industry watchers but has more importantly left UK food manufacturers isolated, writes Ben Cooper.