IFST Response to National Food Strategy

“IFST welcomes and supports the work undertaken by Henry Dimbleby and the National Food Strategy (NFS) team to generate this evidence-led proposal that considers the whole food system. We hope this leads to a UK-wide Food Strategy with a joined-up approach by Government. Food needs to be a national priority at the highest level. 

IFST fully endorses ‘creating a better food system’ as one of the first long term missions of the Government’s Innovation Strategy. A competent, innovative and resilient UK food system with strong foundations in science and technology will ensure food security, profitability and a highly skilled workforce. 

IFST have long advocated mandatory food education in schools and supports investment in food education. We urgently need to empower citizens to eat healthily and sustainably. Integrating food and diet into both public health and STEM curricula will build better food understanding and show how food science and food technology enable the food system to transform agricultural produce into affordable, safe, shelf-stable and nutritious food products. 

The report correctly identifies the challenges to public health caused by the increased consumption of high fat, salt and sugar foods whilst recognising that processed foods also play a role in a healthy balanced diet. Alongside alternative protein sources, more efficient food processing to retain more nutrients and reduce waste will be critical in addressing the challenges identified in the report as needing urgent attention. 

IFST would like to emphasise the need for investment in the whole food system, not only agriculture. The report stresses the importance and need for data. An initial baseline needs to be derived across the entire food system and all data collected will require consideration and contextual interpretation. In addition, IFST feels that there was a lack of emphasis on food safety and integrity. To avoid unintended consequences, data gathered, and standards set should also integrate food safety. 

Applying a systems approach addressing strategic priorities with cross-Government alignment on food, will give the best chance for successful transformation. Achieving food security with continued high standards requires talented and dedicated players, including skilled food scientists and technologists.

IFST recommends close collaboration across all UK food system stakeholders to create relevant insights and drive measurable change together to address the challenges facing the UK food system to be fit for the future.”

Jon Poole, Chief Executive, Institute of Food Science & Technology (IFST)