UN-backed study suggests vegetarian diet can be a “win-win” for health and sustainability
National governments are missing a trick when it comes to the potential for environmentally sustainable diets to improve health, according to a recent report released by the Food Climate Research Network. The study, which was funded by the United Nations Food and Agriculture organisation, looked at the websites of 215 national websites to uncover what their guidelines mentioned regarding food.
Of the countries covered by the research, 83 had national food guidelines in place. Only four of these mentioned sustainability, however. Although national guidelines only make up one prong of government’s nutrition strategies, they are indicative of the policy areas which are seen as most important.
“If we are to address the multiple social, health and environmental challenges caused by, and affecting food systems, global populations need to move towards dietary patterns that are both healthy and also respectful of environmental limits," the report states. "There is increasingly robust evidence to suggest that dietary patterns that have low environmental impacts can also be consistent with good health - that win-wins are possible, if not inevitable."
ARPA Piemonte publishes guidelines for catering procurement
The Italian regional procurement body ARPA Piemonte has been working with INNOCAT partner Envipark to look at what improvements in can make to its in-house canteen. Following a detailed energy audit and needs assessment, ARPA Piemonte engaged with suppliers to see what was available on the market to help reduce waste and improve energy efficiency.
The new guidelines include minimum standards for electricity and energy consumption, minimization of food waste and the requirement to use a life-cycle-costing approach when assessing bids. Non-single use packaging which is compatible with the needs of hygiene, contact and food storage is also requested. The control will be monitored to ensure that bidders meet energy consumption targets while maintaining customer satisfaction levels.
For more information, download the ARPA Piemonte catering service guidelines.
Danish Government provides funds to fight food waste
The Danish National Government has created a subsidy pool worth DKK 5 million (over €670,000) dedicated to supporting projects which are tackling food waste. The Fund can be used for projects tackling waste all along the supply chain, from production to consumption.
The subsidy scheme aims to build on recent success at tackling food waste in Denmark, with a 25% reduction having been achieved over the last 5 years according to the Agriculture and Food Council. However, there is still much work to be done. The average citizen in Denmark currently throws away about 1 kg of food per week, which is estimated to be costing each household around DKK 3,200.
This initiative reflects a broader focus across Europe on reducing food waste, with successful schemes also running in France, Italy and the UK.
Since February 2016, supermarkets in France are no longer allowed to throw away or destroy unsold food. Following a law passed unanimously by the French senate, supermarkets are expected to donate any leftover food to food banks or charities instead. The law applies to supermarkets with a footprint of over 400 m2. The process for food banks to receive donations directly from the factory has also been simplified.
Under the legislation, supermarkets are also prevented from deliberately spoiling food to prevent foraging. This follows a growing trend amongst those on low incomes of foraging for products thrown out just before they reach their expiry dates.
Campaigners in France are now focusing on the European Union, calling for the European Commission to consider developing such a measure at the European level and lobbying for similar laws to be implemented in other member states. Such a law could have a powerful influence on food waste: the EU wastes 89m tonnes of food a year, while an estimated 1.3bn tonnes are wasted worldwide annually.