Australia’s dietary guidelines and the environmental impact of food “from paddock to plate”

Australia’s dietary guidelines and the environmental impact of food “from paddock to plate”

DEA committee members Dr Linda Selvey and Dr Marion Carey write in the January 2013 edition of the Medical Journal of Australia.  Their article is ‘open access’.

 

Australia’s dietary guidelines and the environmental impact of food “from paddock to plate”

Linda A Selvey and Marion G Carey

Our guidelines need to do more for the health of the planet as well as the population

A draft revision of Australia’s dietary guidelines was released by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for public comment in December 2011.1 Although comprehensive with respect to nutrition, there is minimal reference in the guidelines to the environmental impact of the food supply and what food choices consumers can make to minimise this impact. Continuing to consume food that has a large ecological footprint will threaten our future food supply. As ensuring food security and minimising the environmental impact of food are intrinsically linked, it is time that all involved in making recommendations about food consumption start taking this food and environmental interconnection into account. Recently, the NHMRC released a draft appendix to the revised dietary guidelines, Australian dietary guidelines through an environmental lens.2 Although this draft appendix acknowledges the critical need to consider the environmental impact of food “from paddock to plate”, the recommendations made are limited, fairly generic and need to be strengthened.

The idea of considering the environmental impact of food in dietary guidelines is not new. The Australian dietary guidelines for adults released in 2003 include an appendix on the sustainability of food systems, which flagged that future dietary guidelines would probably have a greater emphasis on sustainability as “the problems caused by non-sustainable systems become more starkly obvious”.3 More recently, the Health Council of the Netherlands developed dietary guidelines from an ecological perspective.4 Even acknowledging the limitations and complexity of the environmental data about minimising the ecological impact of food production in Australia, there is sufficient information to make stronger statements in the dietary guidelines about some key areas: in relation to fish, bottled water and red meat, the evidence is clear…….

…..Read the rest online here.


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