Over the past few months, the Federation of Bakers, as part of the Food and Drink Federation, has been working with the Department of Health on its Public Health Responsibility Deal. This covers food, physical activity, alcohol and health in the workplace, and enables industry to work in partnership with government to improve public health outcomes.
Having the government work with business, consumer organisations and health professionals is a sensible way of ensuring a co-ordinated effort to encourage people to make healthier choices. But it also throws up challenges.
The Public Health Responsibility Deal Plenary Group will oversee the public commitments from the individual five Networks Food, Alcohol, Physical Activity, Health at Work and Behaviour Change which are each developing their own pledges. At present, the pledges for food are focused on calorie information, salt and trans fats. Of these three areas, salt is probably of most significance to the baking industry. We do want to help people work towards reducing the amount of salt in their diet, but it’s important that the pledges we make are realistic and workable to ensure our members buy into them and that they can deliver the required outcome.
A voluntary approach to improving public health can deliver an achievable end result, leading to genuine changes in the quality and healthiness of the food everyone eats. Secretary of State for Public Health Andrew Lansley has placed importance on government working with business as well as the voluntary sector, non-governmental organisations and public health bodies. The diversity of this group should lead to a shared goal that we will all work together to reach.