Australians enjoy one of the safest and most nutritious food supplies in the world resulting from the adoption of ever improving production and processing technologies by the agri-food industry guided by a sophisticated outcomes-based food policy and regulatory system.
Notwithstanding this Australians also have among the highest overweight and obesity levels in the world with concomitant increasing levels of lifestyle related non-communicable diseases. Concerns about the long term costs on health budgets as well as impacts on the quality of life of individuals has led to calls from the public health sector for greater regulation of the food industry. The general rationale for greater regulation is that consumer choice needs to influenced, or restricted, so that at the population level diets align more closely with the Australian Dietary Guidelines. Imposition of regulation, however, is subject to government agreements on good regulatory practice which the food industry references when engaging in public policy advocacy in the preventive health area.
The public health debate becomes adversarial commonly played out in the popular press, possibly leaving consumers with diminished confidence in official Dietary Guidelines, the regulators and the wholesomeness of the food supply . The Australian food industry perspective on food policy and regulation in the context of contemporary and recent past preventive health issues will be discussed.
Dr Geoffrey Annison is the Deputy Chief Executive and Health Nutrition and Scientific Affairs, Australian Food & Grocery Council Australia
Director, Health, Nutrition and Scientific Affairs. Dr Geoffrey Annison joined the AFGC in October 2007. He has wide experience in food regulation and innovation, having held a number of senior technical and management roles in industry in Australia and overseas, in academia, and in public policy.
His career has spanned a number of sectors including the FMCG sector with Goodman Fielder and the AFGC, the rural sector with organisations such as Australian Pork Ltd and AWB Ltd. and research providers such as Massey University in New Zealand and the CSIRO, providing him with an extensive knowledge of current industry issues, particularly in the technical arena. Dr Annison has a Bachelor of Science in Food Technology and a PhD in Microbiology from the University of New South Wales.