The British Poultry Council has hit out at a Westminster report that suggests consumers should eat less meat as a way of enhancing food security.
The Global Food Security report from the International Development Committee of MPs says the UK is “never more than a few days away from a significant food shortage”.
In particular, it points to the rate of increase in global meat consumption which it describes as “unsustainable” due to the growth in the production of grain-fed livestock, with crops used to feed animals instead of humans.
“UK consumers should be encouraged, over time, to reduce how often they eat meat,” suggested committee chairman, Sir Malcolm Bruce. “As a nation we should place a stronger focus on more sustainable extensive systems of meat production, rather than on highly intensive grain-fed livestock units.”
But chief executive of the British Poultry Council Andrew Large said the committee’s recommendations on meat consumption were disappointing.
“Poultrymeat is a wholesome and nutritious protein source and should be an important feature of a healthy diet,” he said. “At a time when the world needs more food than ever to meet the demands of a growing population, food production must be a priority and the poultrymeat industry has a key role to play.
“Poultry production is an economically sustainable production with the most efficient Feed Conversion Ratio among other livestock, low carbon and water footprints, low energy and electricity usage. Thanks to a short supply chain, the poultry industry contributes efficiently to feeding the world, in an environmentally responsible way.”
As well as cutting down on meat consumption, the committee report calls for a national consumer campaign to reduce domestic food waste, with government-set targets for the food production and retail sectors.
It also calls for a significant rethink on biofuels policy. “Biofuel crops not only displace food crops, but are in some cases providing energy sources that are potentially more damaging to the environment than fossil fuels,” said Sir Malcolm.
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