We welcome steps from Scottish Government to help improve our food environment in Scotland as these are much needed and overdue.
Whilst we acknowledge that the past 18 months have been difficult for some parts of the out of home sector, consumers in Scotland still spent £3bn in this sector in 2020 and there were 21 million more trips for takeaway food than in 2019. This means the out of home sector still play a significant role in the quality of our diet. Improvements in this sector are needed if we want to achieve our dietary goals for the population of Scotland.
During this week of action to tackle non-communicable diseases we have acknowledged the health toll that the rates of obesity in Scotland bring as they lead to greater risk of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
The steps proposed by the Scottish Government are important first steps. We hope that calorie labelling will not only lead to improved consumer knowledge but also reformulation to change some of the extremely high calorie items we know are marketed in the out of home sector. Helping our children eat more healthily is important and we welcome steps to improve children’s menus.
However, there are a lot more actions that are required and we need more detail on the proposals and their timescales. We would call on the Scottish Government to progress their plan for mandatory calorie labelling with urgency and set a clear timeline for the consultation and implementation. We would urge them to rethink their plan for a voluntary framework approach. We know from experience that voluntary approaches don’t work and many in the food industry are calling for regulation to level the playing field and ensure their efforts to provide healthier food are not undercut by competitors.
We call on the Scottish Government to go further and quicker on all these measures while also supporting and encouraging the industry to recover from the pandemic in a way that ensures the industry take responsibility for their role in achieving a healthy weight population in Scotland.