Covid-19: Food planning recommendations sent to UK Government

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University professors have written a letter to the Public Health England (PHE) chief executive Duncan Selbie to offer suggestions to the UK Government to ensure that all residents are well fed in the current coronavirus crisis.

Professors from the University of London, the University of Sussex and Cardiff University explained that that the existing set of food controls could and should be strengthened by several feasible changes that will require central government action.

In their letter, the professors said: “The government has set up extensive consultation across the food supply industries, but has yet to engage adequately with public health and consumer representatives. It has imposed restrictions on how people behave in public spaces. It has not, however, set restrictions on or advice for food purchasing.

“Nor has it highlighted the importance of good diets to the health of our immune systems, let alone apply its existing EATWELL health guidelines to encourage people at a time when physical exercise is seriously disrupted.”

“We recognise that many briefings and discussions are held between Defra, as a lead ministry, and senior food industry representatives. We appreciate why this is the case – and also their sensitivity – but also note that tacitly this is ceding responsibility for ensuring the nation is properly and equitably nourished to industry rather than this being framed by overt, publicly accountable and public interest criteria.”

According to professors, the government should provide clear and well-informed public guidance on what is nutritionally necessary for the people living in the UK and to maintain food security and nutritional appropriateness in the country.

In the letter, they also recommended the government to establish new working structures with clear principles of equity and health and co-ordinated methods of delivery.

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