Food working group needs public health input

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 2nd December 2010

mature-wheat-heads.jpgThe Public Health Association of Australia has criticised the Government’s new Food Policy Working Group, saying that its panel represents industry presence over public heath interests.

The Working Group, comprising 13 members, is made up of Woolworths managing director Michael Luscombe, NFF president Jock Laurie, Elders chief executive officer Malcolm Jackman, Linfox Logistics’ Michael Byrne, CSIRO’s Dr Alastair Robertson, Simplot Australia’s Terry O’Brien, OBE Organics’ Simone Tully, Boost Juice’s Janine Allis, Australian Food and Grocery Council’s Kate Carnell, Choice’s Nick Stace, Graincorp’s Alison Watkins, ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence and University of Wollongong’s Dr Peter Williams.

“There is no voice from public health and only one person with any involvement in nutrition, meaning the working group is simply unbalanced,” said nutrition expert and author Dr Rosemary Stanton.

“The PHAA has been reminding government about the importance of including health since the National Food Policy announcement was first made, just prior to the election, by the former Minister for Agriculture, Hon Tony Burke. At the time Mr Moore held discussions with the then Parliamentary Secretary with responsibility for food, Hon Mark Butler and has reiterated the PHAA position with his successor, Hon Catherine King emphasising the importance of having strong nutrition and public health representation.

“The growing obesity epidemic provides just one example of why public health must play a key health, financial and practical role in any National Food Policy,” said Michael Moore, the CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia.

“Food has such a significant impact on the health of all Australians that the food policy working group must include the public health perspective.”

The PHAA said that It is appropriate for public health to be a key consideration when planning for sustainable food supplies, agriculture, environmental issues, food security, manufacturing and exports.

“It is not too late for Senator Ludwig to recognise the omission in the working group and invite those representing the health of all Australians to the table and we call on him to do so,” added Moore.