Good Food Nation Bill

– in the Scottish Parliament on 25th May 2017.

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Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

1. To ask the Scottish Government what the timetable is for the good food nation bill, and whether it will include addressing the health implications of multibuys. (S5O-01029)

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

Work has begun to prepare a consultation that will inform the content of the good food nation bill. Decisions on the bill timetable will be taken in the context of the Government’s overall legislative programme. The content of the bill will be informed by the outcome of the consultation and by any actions required to give effect to a range of Government priorities.

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

The cabinet secretary will be aware that many organisations, including the Scottish food coalition, and many individuals are keen for the good food nation bill to help to transform our food culture. Despite the fact that we have had the beginnings of a food revolution in this country in recent years, there is still much more to do to tackle food poverty, obesity and other issues. Is the cabinet secretary aware of the Cancer Research UK paper that has been published in the past few days that indicates that 40 per cent of all calories are consumed as a result of price promotions for unhealthy foods in supermarkets? It also points out that seven in 10 Scottish adults support banning promotions of unhealthy foods in our supermarkets. Is that the kind of issue that he believes the bill can address? Is there any short-term action, which would be even better, that the Scottish Government can take to address that important issue?

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

Richard Lochhead is quite right to mention that report. I have not studied it: it is within the purview of my colleague Aileen Campbell, who has responsibility for public health, and I know that she will take the matter seriously. Just last week, I met representatives of the Scottish food coalition to discuss their ideas for inclusion in the bill. I have invited the Food Commission to provide advice on the bill to ministers, and would welcome contributions from members of all parties across the Parliament, because this is a great opportunity for Scotland to develop measures to improve our nutrition and food health.

Photo of Brian Whittle Brian Whittle Conservative

In addressing food multibuys, we have to differentiate between the types of food that we do not want people to eat and those that we want them to eat—we should be encouraging multibuys of fruit and vegetables and other healthy foods. Will the good food nation bill address public procurement of food for our schools and hospitals to ensure that local food is procured wherever possible?

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

Mr Whittle, given his former career as an international athlete, is well placed to be an advocate for good choices in dietary matters. He is absolutely right to raise those issues, which are taken seriously by all members of the Scottish Government.

On Brian Whittle’s second question, I recently convened the first summit on food procurement, which was to ensure that in the public sector—in our hospitals, our schools and in Government and public sector institutions—we procure as much of our food as possible locally. We have made considerable progress over the past 10 years by increasing take-up of local produce from Scottish farmers and other primary producers by a substantial margin. That work is on-going.