What is the issue?
The UK, sadly, has a significant problem with both food insecurity and health inequality, highlighted by the recent statistics revealing that nearly five million adults in the UK have been rendered food insecure by COVID-19, with almost a fifth of UK homes with children going hungry in lockdown. The stark reality of health inequalities was shown in PHE’s report on the impact of COVID-19, with people from BAME or poorer backgrounds at much greater risk than the population as a whole. Dietitians see this impact every day in their work with children, adults and older people.
The UK currently benefits from a strong set of food safety, welfare and public health standards. However, we know that other countries wish to change or negotiate over these as part of future trade deals. That must not be allowed to happen.
If the UK exits the EU with no-deal on 31 Dec 2020, it will only exacerbate these problems. Impacts include increased food prices or reduced availability of certain products, as well as lowering of standards that threatens to create a two-tier food system. In all cases, the poorest and most food insecure will feel the greatest impact.
What does the BDA want to see?
COVID-19 has already laid bare the weaknesses of the Government’s planning and policy around food. We need urgent reassurance that the government has a plan to step in, should needs be, to ensure nobody struggles to access the food and drink in the UK as a result of food insecurity, poverty, or Brexit (whatever form it takes). We need urgent reassurance that the government will not allow trade deals to degrade our food standards, which would disproportionately impact the poorest in society. And we need support from government to ensure everyone who needs it can access dietetic support.
What can you do?
There are a number of ways you can raise your concerns about these important issues of food poverty, food insecurity and food standards:
- Write to your local political representatives to urge them to tackle food poverty and protect our food standards.
- Advice on contacting political representatives
- Use TheyWorkForYou to find your local representatives
- Read our previous letters to ministers on protecting food standards, and ensuring the provision of specialist nutrition products after Brexit.
- Sign the Which? "Save our food standards" petition
- Support Sustain's "Right to Food" campaign
Find out more background and about the BDA's position at the links below. You can use this information to inform your own letters or lobbying to politicians throughout the UK.
- Read our July 2020 briefing on Brexit
- Read Caroline Bovey's most recent blog post on Brexit and its potential impacts on our food system
- Read our letter with MAPN on food insecurity and malnutrition amongst older people
- BDA Statement on Food Poverty
- Read our letter to the Minister, alongside Sustain and others, calling for improvements in Healthy Start.
- Read about the Which? Trade Deal campaign
- Read the House of Lords Committee on Food, Poverty, Health and the Environment report "Hungry for Change: Fixing the Failures in Food".
- Take a look at the NHS Confederation's Brexit pages
- Read about the government's 'bounce back' plan for the agriculture and food sector
- Food Foundation - Five million people living in households ith children have experienced food insecurity since lockdown started
- Public Health England - COVID-19: review of disparities in risks and outcomes