The private sector must devote greater attention to healthy and safe food

There are many ways in which food producers, wholesalers and the catering industry can help to combat overweight, to promote a healthy diet and to improve food safety. Greater availability of healthy products, and less advertising for unhealthy products Alongside a lack of physical activity, the cause of the rise in obesity is to be found in the overabundant supply of energy-dense foods in shops, workplace canteens and school dining halls.

The advertising of unhealthy products is also a contributory factor. Convenience, flavor, price and acquired habits are the factors which determine the consumer’s eating patterns. The private sector can use all these factors in promoting a healthier diet

There are many ways in which foods can be modified in order to render the ‘healthy choice’ the ‘easy choice’, without requiring consumers to alter their eating habits very much. In some cases, product modifications require no behavioural change at all on the part of the consumer. Examples from the past include the addition of iodine to table salt and the altered fatty acid composition of margarines. Moreover, such changes do not have to limit the consumer’s choice. Rather, there are excellent opportunities for providing an extremely varied range of products, with something to appeal to every taste.

 The maintenance and improvement of food safety in the light of new circumstances

Safe food is a precondition of healthy eating. The maintenance and further improvement of food safety begins with the awareness of its importance. There does indeed appear to be a high level of awareness in the Netherlands. Two aspects will be important in future.

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The first involves enhanced food safety in the animal (derivatives) food chain, by such means as ensuring good hygiene in the primary production phase and in the final phase of actually preparing the food. The second aspect is the introduction of more effective quality control for novel and existing ingredients, and for production chains.

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