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Food for Thought

Welcome to the first edition of the Public Health Advocacy Institute’s Food for Thought bi-monthly e-newsletter. We ask you to give serious consideration to food-related public health priorities and aim to support advocacy across sectors. If you would like to contribute, please email us at phai@curtin.edu.au

 

Food fight for warning labels in India

Public health advocates in India have lobbied for warning labels on food for several years. Despite clear support for warning labels from the public health community and their effectiveness in many other countries, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI’s) has turned its back on this approach. Instead, it has chosen to use the controversial Health Star Rating System despite this system having been shown to be used by food manufacturers to market ultra-processed foods (UPF). Rapidly increasing intakes of UPF have contributed to India arguably becoming the ‘diabetes capital of the world.’ Advocates argue the urgency for mandated warning labels on UPF while food industry opposes this.

For detailed information on the advocacy approach, the science, opinion and industry tactics, see Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest - India (NAPi) here, see Policy Brief here and follow Dr Arun Gupta MD FIAP @Moveribfan See Policy Brief here. Source image Pan American Health Organization, World Health Organisation here.

Dietitians for healthy and sustainable diets

Dietitians Australia (DA)released its Position Statement on Healthy and Sustainable Diets (here). Healthy and sustainable diets must: ·
  • be nutritionally adequate, healthy and safe ·
  • have low environmental impact and be protective of natural resources and biodiversity ·
  • be culturally acceptable ·
  • be accessible, economically fair and affordable.
DA and like-minded organisations use the statement to support submissions, Parliamentary Inquiry hearings, and for media,in advocacy efforts to achieve healthy and sustainable diets in Australia.

Obesity Policy Coalition

Obesity Policy Coalition’s (OPC's) 2022 Federal Election priorities released 12 April 2022 urge government to:
  1. Protect children from unhealthy food and drink marketing
  2. Inform consumers about the harmful sugars in packaged foods
  3. Protect the health of our youngest Australians by improving the composition, labelling and promotion of baby and toddler foods
  4. Reduce sugary drink consumption by introducing a health levy on sugary drink
Advocacy asks are consistent with the National Obesity Strategy and the National Preventive Health Strategy

Fair Food WA Strategic Priorities

The WA Council of Social Service (WACOSS) auspices Fair Food WA (FFWA) to connect stakeholders to address food security in Western Australia. Members endorsed 4 new strategic priorities in February 2022:
  1. State Government leadership
  2. State disaster planning
  3. Broader community leadership
  4. Geographic isolation and food resilience.
See WACOSS submission to WA Health Review of The Food Act (2008) 27 April 2022 here.

Food Community Project 

The Food Community Project aims to identify how food security initiatives address healthy food availability, access and use within systems. Healthway has funded the upscale of the project state wide following the south west of Western Australia pilot. 
Visit the website at https://foodcommunity.com.au/home/ to learn more. If interested in nominating for the Advisory Committee, Email Dr Stephanie Godrich on stephanie@foodcommunity.com.au.

Australian Academy of Science Opportunities

The Australian Academy of Science is offering a number of opportunities for researchers, here.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Scientist Award, here and the research, travelling and conference awards and travelling fellowships here close 1 June 2022 @ 11:59 PM AEST.

Food Security - A Perfect Storm

The increasing cost of living in Australia has been leading news for weeks impacting food security. Croakey Health Media featured “As we face a “perfect storm” for food security, here are some solutions” article on 6 April 2022. Amanda Lee, Lisa-Maree Herron and Bronwyn Fredericks discussed the ineffectiveness of the Commonwealth’s federal Budget one-off handouts to resolve food insecurity and propose structural fixes need to be an important part of food security policy going forward.

Read the article here.

Food Standard Australia New Zealand (FSANZ)

Responding to calls for submissions about a policy or regulation is a good way to advocate.  FSANZ regularly calls for submissions on applications and proposals to change the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code).  Current calls for public comment are here or you can subscribe to keep informed here.

Written submissions for Proposal – P1028 Infant Formula, to revise and clarify standards relating to infant formula products comprising category definitions, composition, labelling and representation of products are due by 6pm (Canberra time) 10 June 2022, here.

New Research: Australian and New Zealand
Journal of Public Health 

Local Government (LG) policies to create healthy, sustainable and equitable food systems in New South Wales and Victoria were explored by Amy Carrad and colleagues. LGs undertook a range of relevant actions. Opportunities to regulate the sale and marketing of unhealthy food across jurisdictions were identified.

You can access the article here.

Novel ideas: Using the Food Stress Index

The Western Australian prototype or the Food Stress Index predicts the likelihood of household food insecurity (by geographic location) and provides basic and nutritious food basket recommendations (that quantify the types and amounts of food to meet dietary recommendations for different family types). To see how it was used by agencies to respond to Australian disasters.

Read the journal article and watch the video here.
Public Health Advocacy Institute I Curtin University
Contributors: Caylah Batt, Natalie Stapleton, Steph Godrich, Christina Pollard & Mel Stoneham
If you have any contributions please email them to PHAI@curtin.edu.au with Food for Thought in the subject line.
Reports & Resources
For advocacy tips and ideas, go to PHAI's Advocacy Toolkit:
https.phaiwa.org.au/the-advocacy-toolkit/
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