International food expert Chris Elliott OBE offered seven principles that would help the Welsh red meat industry with “a sustainable food supply system based on integrity” in his address to Hybu Cig Cymru-Meat Promotion Wales (HCC)’s virtual conference last week.

“When I talk about food integrity I talk about seven core principles,” the Queen’s University Belfast Professor told online industry viewers.

The “Sustainable Seven” are:

“How safe is our food? What are the nutritional standards of our food and how authentic is our food?

Principle four is how sustainable are our food production systems? Principle five, are we using the highest possible ethical production standards?”

His final two principles were embedded in an ongoing commitment to develop greater social and environmental responsibility.

“Six and seven are that we have to respect – and then protect – our planet and also all of those people who produce our food, right from primary agriculture through to those people who sell us and serve us out food be it in retail or hospitality.”

Professor Elliott, who is a world-leading expert on meat supply chains, sustainability and food security, also gave an overview of the UK and Irish beef and lamb industries:

We have a very safe food supply system, however, a couple of very big things have changed this year. One is growth and interest in home cooking.

“This is fantastic – but a lot of people are not really sure how to cook properly and safely at home and food storage is also now a big issue.”

Growth in online orders

Elliott said that online ordering was also growing and while that was very good news for smaller professional local tradespeople who could deliver fresh food to their communities he cautioned about using some new and growing online marketplaces.

He emphasised the importance when choosing food to eat of understanding and applying nutritional knowledge and exampled mortality incidence with Covid-19.

It’s linked to obesity and, in particular, Type 2 diabetes. That is all about bad nutrition with too many calories and not enough micronutrients, and the other quite startling statistic is that of all those admitted to hospital for Covid-19 treatment, 80% were deficient in vitamin D.

HCC Communications Manager Owen Roberts added:

“We were delighted that Professor Elliott, one of the world’s most respected experts on food security, was able to address our virtual conference.

“Viewers were very interested in his views on how the Covid-19 pandemic has influenced the food industry, and encouraged that our PGI Welsh Lamb and PGI Welsh Beef brands are well-placed to be among the trusted, traceable and sustainable products that future consumers will want.”