The new ‘eatwell’ guide, no longer a plate, was issued on March 16th 2016. This is my view of that guide. This post is about the group behind the guide.
When Unilever take out adverts in national UK newspapers saying: ”We are delighted that unsaturated fats, like the oils found in our spreads, now have a dedicated section of the Eatwell Guide and are recognised as the healthy option…”, you should be alarmed. If your so-called role model healthy eating plate is welcomed by fake food companies, surely you got it wrong. (Many thanks MelanieB for the pic.)
The remit of the group
A group was set up in November 2014 to review the ‘eatwell’ plate. You can follow this link to a number of documents where you will find the Purpose of the group and the Terms of reference as follows (SACN is an abbreviation for the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition and PHE is Public Health England) (the bit in blue is all direct quotation):
Purpose of the group: “At the time of the publication of the draft SACN Carbohydrate and Health report, PHE highlighted action that would be undertaken while the SACN consultation continued. Sugar Reduction – responding to the challenge, included a commitment to review healthy eating messages in light of the draft SACN report. PHE has established this external reference group to provide advice on aspects of the eatwell plate.”
Terms of reference: “To provide advice to Public Health England on potential changes to the eatwell plate in light of draft recommendations from SACN.
* consider approaches to revising the segment sizes for the eatwell plate
* approaches to reviewing the visual aspects of the plate model
* approaches for reflecting messages on foods that should be consumed in limited amounts
* approaches for reflecting hydration messages
* opportunities for promotion of any amended visual.”
The group committed to meeting together, or virtually, up to three times between September 2014 and January 2015. The meeting minutes show that the group met in November 2014, December 2014, February 2015 and June 2015. The SACN report was not published until July 2015, so the group met to respond to the report before it was published – presumably relying on draft SACN guidelines.
The members of the group
If you follow this link, you can see the original documents about meetings, terms of reference etc. Very little information is shared – that’s typical of any bodies subject to the Freedom of Information act, for which I have some sympathy.
The members of the group revising the eatbadly plate were:
Lisa Jackson, AFN (Chair) – Association for Nutrition.
The Association for Nutrition founding fellows can be seen here. Jackson was the main spokesperson on the press release. Two other members of the AFN caught my eye: Anne de Looy – author of this support for the sugar industry and none other than Alison Tedstone, Chief Nutritionist for Public Health England. Probably fair to say, therefore, that PHE set out to ensure that the outcome would meet PHE approval.
Alison Nelson, BDA – British Dietetic Association (Luci Daniels attended the final meeting instead of Alison Nelson).
The BDA sponsor list is not as bad as those of other group members: Danone; Abbott Nutrition – catch em young eh? But you can generally rely on a dietician to defend fake food and they have previously shared with me how “delighted they have been” to work with the sugar bureau.
Karen Tonks, IGD – Institute of Grocery Distribution.
Members are food, drink and grocery manufacturers, distributors, wholesales and operators – the full Monty of the food, drink and grocery world.
Judy Buttriss, BNF – British Nutrition Foundation.
Don’t be fooled by the name – the British Nutrition Foundation have always had one of the worst conflict lists you will see. Members are the who’s who of the fake food industry again: Aldi; ASDA; Birds Eye; British Sugar; Coca-cola; Co-Op; Danone; General Mills; Greggs; Heinz; Kelloggs; KP Snacks; M&S; Mars; McCain; McDonalds; Morrisons; Nestle; PepsiCo; Quorn; Sainsbury; Slimming World!; Tate & Lyle; Unilever; United Biscuits; Waitrose; Warburtons; and Weetabix.
Andrea Martinez-Inchausti, BRC – British Retail Consortium.
Members include: Aldi; ASDA; Burger King; Costa Coffee; Greggs; Iceland; Lidl; M&S; McDonalds; Morrison; Sainsbury; Spar; Starbucks; Subway; Tesco; Thorntons; Waitrose; and many, many more.
Kate Halliwell, FDF – Food & Drink Federation.
Members are again pretty much the who’s who of the fake food industry: AB sugar; Association of British foods; Allied Bakeries; Alpro SOYA; Batchelors (premier foods); Border Biscuits; British STARCH industry; British oat and barley millers’ association; British sugar; Britvic; Burton’s Biscuit company – that’s just some of the companies under A and B. You can work through C to Z if you like! I highlighted SOYA and STARCH, as they will be especially thrilled with the new plate.
James Lowman, Association of Convenience Stores (Judy Byers attended the Feb and July 2015 meetings instead of James Lowman).
“The Association for Convenience Stores core purpose is to lobby Government on the issues that make a difference to local shops.” The ACS describes itself as the voice of 33,500 local shops. Here is ACS Chief Executive, James Lowman, (the man on the ‘eatwell’ committee) welcoming the failure of the Welsh public health bill, because convenience stores don’t want a tobacco register. Nice!
Modi Mwatsama, UKHF (UK Health Forum) – jolly good!
No conflicts! Ta dah! However, how much impact could one person have, especially when other potentially health orientated members didn’t turn up…
Helen Donovan, RCN – Royal College of Nursing – jolly good!
However, the meeting minutes showed that Donovan did not attend the December 2014, February 2015 or June 2015 meetings, so nurses were not represented.
Esther Trenchard-Mabere, ADPH – Associate Director of Public Health – should be good but also, according to the minutes, didn’t attend any meetings beyond the November 2014 ‘meet and greet’.
Maureen Strong, AHDB – Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board.
The Agricultural & Horticulture Development Board is a statutory levy board. Farmers, growers and others in the supply chain have to pay the levy. The AHDB is supposed to represent: Pig meat; Milk; Beef & lamb; Cereals and oilseeds; and Potatoes. May I suggest that, while cereals, oilseeds and potatoes are celebrating, pig, milk, beef and lamb producers should withhold their levies. Strong certainly did not put in a strong showing on behalf of meat and dairy producers.
The bottom line
The terms of reference tell us that “Public Health England established this external reference group to provide advice on aspects of the eatwell plate.” Public Health England presumably appointed the chair from the same stable as itself (AFN). Public Health England presumably appointed the other reference group members from the fake food industry. Why? Why have one such member? Let alone stack the majority of the group with the who’s who of the fake food industry? How the heck are we supposed to take Public Health England seriously with this kind of behaviour?
What on earth chance did EAT REAL FOOD! have with that External Reference Group?!
p.s. (This was the Monday newsletter for 28 March 2016)