Unleashing the power of law to promote better health for all

Thursday 20th May 2021

The value of legal intervention, and its inherent potential in stimulating progressive change for public health, is considerable and laws are expected to contribute to solutions to the most pressing global health challenges.

Not only do international commitments to reduce disease prevalence often call for regulatory interventions, there is also growing recognition that the law, as a discipline, has a major role in framing effective public health strategies at global, regional, national, and local levels. This webinar explored legal channels through public health can be enhanced.

For instance, one of the most contested issues is food packaging. Used mainly to inform consumers about products, labelling has an enormous impact on consumer choice. However, legal regulations are a tool, but it is insufficient alone.

Success depends the collaboration of stakeholders, including the scientific community, food industry, and consumers, and the panel stressed the need of legal actions to create environments where healthy options -from food to physical activity- are the easiest as well as most affordable options.

Also, any solutions need to be fit-for-purpose (legitimacy test) and must not exceed the objective (necessity test). In other words, legal measures should not create unnecessary obstacles (oppose the industry), but rather be an opportunity to regulate food industry operators, providing clear guidelines for the industry and protecting consumers.

Organised by EUPHA Public Health Law Section and the UK Faculty of Public Health.

Speakers:

Professor Amandine Garde – Law & NCD Unit, University of Liverpool

Lawrence Gostin – Georgetown University, WHO Collaborating Center on Public Health Law & Human Right

Professor Markus Frischhut – MCI

Dr Anniek de Ruijter – University of Amsterdam

Professor Martin McKeen –  London School of Hygiene

WholEUGrain

WholEUGrain

17th-18th-19th May 2021

WholEUGrain is a EU-funded project launched in November 2019 with Beneficiaries from four countries (DK, RO, SI, and Bosnia and Herzegovina).

The aim of the project is to facilitate and gain experience of the Danish best practice model for whole grain partnerships in other countries.

Overall, the objectives are to promote a good health through healthy diets, prevent noncommunicable diseases, reduce inequalities regarding access to healthy foods, and establish supportive environments for healthy lifestyle by developing country-wide whole grain public-private partnerships.

This event explored the benefits of a pan-European partnership on whole grains to enhance citizens’ health, discussed whole grains and cancer prevention, and whole grains as part of sustainability diets as well as the legal and social aspects of food labelling.

Wholegrain products are rich in fibre, an essential element of a balanced diet. However, not all wholegrain products are healthy, and we need to check whether products are also low in sugar, fat, and salt as well as containing wholegrain.

Organised by WholEUGrain, a European Action on Whole grain Partnerships.

The Agenda is available here.

Collaborative approach to climate change adaptation in Turkey

Data needed for nutritionists, dietitians, and gastronomes to address influences of expected climate changes 

Health Sciences Faculty, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University, Turkey

Turkey’s initiatives, such as becoming a party to international mitigation strategies on climate change, can be traced back to the 2009 Kyoto Protocol and 2012 National Climate Change Action Plan. There are clear indications that climate change is taking place in Turkey (e.g., spring rainfall is arriving later than it used to, delaying the harvest period) and Turkey is projected to be at high-risk by 2050.

Some influences will affect individuals, but most will have an impact nation-wide, including food security and dietary choices, and citizens need to be aware that some foods might not always be available. Climate-smart management measures also need to be oriented towards nutritional, dietary, and gastronomic activities, but knowledge and understanding of climate change is poor amongst these audiences. Thus, we need multidisciplinary collaboration to advance knowledge and understanding about the impact of climate change on food and work together to address the various challenges.

Success in delivering climate-change sensitive services depends on learning around environmental sustainability, but this topic is not included in curricula for these disciplines and climate change is ranked low against other priorities, and this must change.

The challenge of meeting individuals’ needs and preferences, while minimising related impacts on health and environment, requires an understanding of how consumption of diets/ foods impact human health and environment. Also, better exploitation of species and/ or varieties adapted to climate changes will help address food security and environmental conservation. In this respect, FAO HORTIVAR database is a useful resource.

Developing smart nutritional, dietetic, and gastronomic options (at reasonable cost, time, and effort) with advanced computational tools will help tackle impacts of climatic variables on dietary patterns as well as addressing any sensory, food safety, health, and gastronomic concerns. These also provide a robust background for more advance research methods. Working with nutritionists, dietitians, and gastronomes is important, because they are trusted by the wider community and can deliver information about how to avoid over-consumption and inefficient use of water, and reduce food losses and waste.

The EU contributes to international climate finance funding (ca. €100 bn yearly) and manages a €864 million programme (LIFE climate action) to develop and implement innovative responses to climate challenges. At least 20% of EU expenditure was climate-related in 2014-2020, and the EU provides financial assistance to Turkey through the seven-year multi-annual operational IPA programmes. Since 2002, €6 billion in pre-accession financial assistance has been allocated to Turkey, 15% per cent of which (about €1 billion) was for the environmental sector. Among EU-funded projects in Turkey, major themes include agriculture, environmental-energy, and climate change mitigation, but there is not a collaborative approach to climate change adaptation yet, which would help protect natural resources and ecosystems. The campaign for this is on-going.

Death by chocolate: Global political economies of tobacco, alcohol, and junk food

16th December 2020

According to recent studies, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are responsible for 60% of premature deaths in Europe, with cancer and heart attacks the leading causes. One of the explanations for increasing NCD occurrences is the environment we live in. NCDs are more prevalent in high income countries, although deaths attributable to NCDs are rising in Africa and Asia, and not only because causes are falling (e.g., infection, under-nutrition).

Amongst manageable risk factors associated with NCDs (i.e., tobacco, diet including malnutrition [imbalance or insufficiency of nutrients, not necessarily energy], alcohol, unsafe sex, low physical activity, and drug abuse), poor diet a significant problem. According to Luke Allen (Research Associate, University of Oxford & WHO Consultant), there are three important vectors driving the impact of diet on NCDs, namely availability, affordability, and acceptability.

WHO recommendations to tackle NCD are:

  • Tobacco: increase taxes and prices; ban tobacco advertising, promotions, and sponsorship; warn smokers about the harms of smoking; provide tobacco cessation programmes.
  • Alcohol: increase excise taxes; ban or restrict alcohol advertising; provide psychosocial intervention for those with hazardous and harmful alcohol use.
  • Healthy diet: reduce salt intake; ban trans-fats; increase taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages.

The most popular measures adopted by developed countries remain clinical guidelines, national NCDs targets and action plans, cardiovascular therapies, obesity policies, and tobacco taxes, some of which are more successful than others. The event concluded with a discussion about who is responsible for health, individuals or governments, and to what extent public health advice (e.g., eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day) is useful when we live in an obesogenic environment with many NDC risk factors outside of citizens’ control.

European Parliament Interest Group on Allergy and Asthma

10th December 2020

Around 13.5 million people in the EU live with asthma or allergies. It is estimated that, by 2025, one in two European will be living with an allergy including food allergies. The European Allergy and Asthma Youth Parliament has advanced policy recommendations to the European Parliament to assist and guide policy-makers with respect to allergy and asthma.

The key recommendations are:

  • Information, involving young people with allergy and asthma in policy decisions that affect their health, which includes a better appreciation of their needs and priorities as well as supporting awareness at local levels.
  • Prevention, ensuring healthy environments that do not compromise citizens’ lives. Specific recommendations include reducing air pollution and harmful emissions, and harmonisation of precautionary allergen labelling on prepacked food across the EU.
  • Care, specifically digitalising disease management for flexible and affordable treatment and care, facilitating establishment of a broad EU-level regulatory framework for online consultations and digital monitoring applications, and better integration of the youth perspective to enable personalised approaches for diagnosis, treatment, and care.

The digital launch of recommendations “Growing up with Allergy and Asthma”, co-hosted by the Members of the European Parliament, Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP, FI) and Tilly Metz (GREENS, LU), was organised by the European Parliament Interest Group on Allergy and Asthma. This is an informal group of MEPs committed to policy actions addressing unmet needs of individuals with allergy and asthma at the EU level. It serves as a forum to share expertise and align interests, engaging with EU policymakers and stakeholders about allergy and asthma health and strives to a source of good data for evidence-based policy making. It was launched in March 2015 as a result of a long-standing collaboration between the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI), European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA), and a group MEPs who are committed to allergy and asthma care and treatment in Europe. For further information, visit here.

2021 – International Year of Fruits and Vegetables

15th December 2020

2021 International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV) aims to raise awareness about the role of fruit and vegetables consumption in nutrition, food security, and health. The launch event emphasised the importance of food production systems and their resilience as demonstrated during 2020 when, despite the pandemic, food shortages have not been an issue in most countries. However, as Chile’s Minister of Agriculture Antonio Walker said, there are challenges in promoting healthy eating habits, especially amongst young people. He called for co-ordinated actions to curb malnutrition, which is not just about insufficiency, but also diets too high in energy, fat, sugar, and salt and too low in fruits and vegetables, providing minerals, vitamins, and fibre. The FAO Director-General, Qu Dongyu, also highlighted reduction of food loss and waste, especially in relation to fruits and vegetables, as goal for 2021. It is calculated that up to half of fruits and vegetables produced in developing countries are lost along the supply chain between harvest and consumption.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is an agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Their goal is to achieve food security for all, ensuring everyone has access to enough high-quality food to lead active and healthy lives. With 194 member states, FAO works in more than 130 countries worldwide.

For further information, visit FAO website here.

2020

Strengthening geographical indications

On the 25th & 26th November 2020, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) organized a conference on how to strengthen geographical indications…read more 


Webinar on Intellectual Property rights in the food industry

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) organized a training on 24th November 2020 about Property rights in the food industry…read more


Processed foods symposium: How to communicate about what we (don’t) know?

On the 24th November 2020, EUFIC organized a roundtable to talk about processed food products and explain what are their main characteristics…read more


Healthcare Summit

On the 17th & 18th November 2020, POLITICO EUROPE, the European Union branch of an american political journalism company based in Virginia, organized a Healthcare Summit to address the following topics:Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, the future of health data sharing in the European Union, rare diseases research…read more


Meat substitutes: Winning Products through Advancements in Technology

Kitchentown is a global innovation platform based in DE which organized a Roundtable on Friday 12th November 2020 to present the meat substitutes…read more


Food labelling for healthier choices: Towards an EU-wide Nutri-score?

The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) hosted the second #ConsumerDebate to explore the viability on the Nutri-Score and its possible application EU-wide…read more


REFRESH on Euronews Futuris 

Euronews Futuris has featured two stories from REFRESH, which finished in June 2019 … read more


ValorizeByProducts Project – from the Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (PT) 

The ValorizeByProducts project aims to enhance the by-products of through its use in the form of supplements as co-adjuvants in the prevention or treatment of obesity. The project also aims to reduce the amount of waste associated with Brassicas crops and associated costs…read more


Webinar “Impact of Brexit on Food Labelling”

Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers (FIC) entered into application on 13 December 2014. It covers all stages along the food chain related to production, processing, and distribution of food in the EU. For instance, FIC requires nutrition information be provided directly on packaging and mandates minimum font size and presentation of details, such as name of the food business operator (FBO) and origin. Thus, what is going to happen once FIC is no longer applied in the UK? read more


‘Ever wondered what happens to your proposal when you submit it?’ 

This NuGO Early Career Network webinar was given by Siân Astley on Friday, 31st July 2020. It offers insights into proposal review, based on personal experience as an independent expert for the European Commission and highlights some of the pitfalls to avoid
– watch the webinar here

Information and views presented in this webinar are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion or position of the European Union. Neither European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use that may be made of the information contained therein.


Front-of-pack (FOP) nutrition labelling: European Heart Network position 

For many years, the European Heart Network (EHN) has actively advocated for introduction of simplified nutrition information on the front of food packages as a cardiovascular health promoting measure. In its 2017 paper Transforming European food and drink policies for cardiovascular health EHN called for the EU to adopt mandatory EU-wide simplified front-of-pack (FOP) nutritional labelling and recommended a scheme which uses traffic light colours to indicate high, medium and low levels of fat, saturated fat, salt and (preferably added) sugar, and committed to following developments in evidence for the most effective FOP nutrition labelling scheme. Since publication of the paper in 2017, there have been several developments on FOP nutrition labelling at the global and European levels. In light of these major developments, and in line with its commitment to follow developments in evidence, EHN has adopted a new position on FOP labelling … read more


Webinar – Better-for-you biscuits in Europe

In a world increasingly concerned about health and aesthetics, people are looking for healthier versions of foods not usually regarded as such. For this reason, Mintel has undertaken a market study to see what trends are having the most success (e.g. no added sugars, light, vegan) but, in this case, we are talking about biscuits and cookies … read more


What is the best way to support quality-of-life for the elderly? 

In a world engrossed by technology, where the social media abounds, something needs to be done to include older people who are not only missing out on potential benefits, but also have much to contribute. This idea underpins working being done to create TURNTABLE, a platform supporting healthy and active ageing among older adults, helping to prolong independent living … read more


FAO Europe – Central Asia Webinar: lifting lockdowns – what next for food systems?

FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia organized a Webinar on Tuesday 28th May 2020 aimed to mitigate the covid-19 impacts on food production, processing, and logistics of supply chains.

As countries ease lockdown measures, a new set of challenges emerges for food production, processing, and logistics of supply chains. Some of these can provide opportunity for growth, given that policymakers and value chain actors play their part.

Watch the webinar here


News from Consiglio per la ricerca e l’analisi dell’economia agraria – Centro Alimenti e Nutrizione (CREA, IT) 

The Consiglio per la ricerca e l’analisi dell’ economia agraria – Centro Alimenti e Nutrizione (CREA, IT) published a new online platform, AlimentiNUTrizione which provides the most advanced knowledge on food composition. The Italian Food Composition Tables were also updated in December 2019 … read more here

Processed food

EUFIC Processed Foods Symposium

How to communicate about what we (don’t) know?

What makes a food product a healthy or unhealthy product? Are processed foods less healthy than non-processed foods? And, what’s the difference between processed and ultra-processed foods? The European Food Information Council (EUFIC) explored these and more at their processed foods symposium on 24.11.2020.The symposium also considered the role of processed foods within a healthy and sustainable diet.

This symposium included presentations about front-of-pack labelling schemes (e.g. Nutri-Score and NOVA), and effects of food on our physical and mental wellbeing as well as the science behind food processing. Two of the take-home messages were that ultra-processed food stuffs are usually more calorie-dense and, in general, food portions are significantly larger now than 50 years ago.

Read more about the symposium here

EUFIC is a non-profit organisation, established in 1995, which aims to provide engaging science-based information to inspire and empower healthier and more sustainable food and lifestyle choices.

EuroFIR is a Member of EUFIC and Paul Finglas (Managing Director) joined their Executive Board in November 2020.