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Good Food Nation: Scotland’s new bill to boost country’s food system

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3 min read
AUTHOR: Molly Long
Mairi Gougeon Gary Maclean

Scotland’s parliament has passed the Good Food Nation Bill – a piece of legislation which will aim to improve the country’s food systems at both national and local levels.

The Bill requires Scottish ministers to produce a national Good Food plan every five years. This plan will need to outline what the main outcomes are, how they can be achieved through policy, and the indicators by which the success of the plan can be measured by.  

Alongside a national plan, public bodies and local authorities will also need to produce their own Good Food plans.

The four main areas which plans will seek to provoke change are social and economic wellbeing, the environment, health and economic development.

Plans to turn Scotland into a so-called Good Food Nation have been ongoing since 2014. At the time, the Scottish Government defined such a nation as a place where:

  • It is the norm for people to take a “keen interest” in food and know what constitutes good food
  • People who serve and sell food are committed to serving and selling good food
  • Everyone has ready access to healthy, nutritious food
  • Dietary-related diseases are in decline, as is the environmental impact of food consumption
  • Producers ensure that what they produce is increasingly healthy and environmentally sound

Reacting to the passing of the Bill, Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “The Good Food Nation Bill reinforces our commitment to ensuring that everyone in Scotland has access to healthy, nutritious fare and that businesses and public kitchens commit to producing, selling and serving good food.

“Organisations can play a leading role in this process – looking at how they boost local procurement, cut down food waste and packaging and use in-season produce as well disposing of food waste in an environmentally friendly way.

“In addition, food education can equip school pupils with the key skills they need to cook tasty, nutritious meals using the incredible array of world-class produce we have, and also make informed food choices when they are away from home.”

Meanwhile David Thomson CEO Food & Drink Federation Scotland said: “FDF Scotland welcomes the Good Food Nation Bill and highly values the importance the Scottish Government places on food and drink.

“The Bill will be a key element in ensuring that Scotland’s critical food and drink producers are supported in their journey to a sustainable, resilient and profitable future.

While the Good Food Nation Bill has widely been met with support in a way that England’s National Food Strategy hasn’t, there are some who say there is room for further action.

Campaign group Nourish Scotland has previously said the legislation has “two of the five” necessary ingredients required to make the country a true Good Food Nation.

Alongside the commitment to food system planning and localised action – which are already a part of the bill – the organisation has said other components like a ‘right to food’ clause and the establishment of a food commission are missing.

Reacting to the Bill’s passing, Nourish Scotland Director Pete Ritchie said: “The good food nation bill lays the foundation for transforming Scotland’s food system for future generations, with benefits for health, climate, nature, communities, and businesses.

“It’s good that the Bill’s been strengthened by the establishment of an independent food commission. The challenge now is to build on the cross-party support for the Bill to develop ambitious cross cutting food plans and policies at local and national level.”


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