Scottish Government
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Scientists serving up super foods

Bread which can help control diabetes, a tomato extract that may reduce heart disease and super berries containing high doses of vitamins are some of the exciting developments being produced by Scottish Government supported scientists.

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Richard Lochhead and Public Health Minister, Shona Robison met some of the scientists involved in this work today to hear how Scottish science is working across the food chain to help to improve our health and boost the food and drink industry.

Research projects discussed included:

  • Shedding light on the best way to lose weight
  • Identifying bio-active compounds in blackcurrants that may slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease
  • Using ultrasound scanning to improve meat quality
  • Improving the management of Scotland's soils to boost yields
  • Reducing the risks of food-borne infections such as E coli O157
  • Assisting in the development and marketing of local foods

Mr Lochhead said:

"Scottish science is making a significant input to our developing national food and drink policy, which aims to boost the industry and support healthier and more environmentally sustainable choices.

"This high-calibre research is helping our primary producers to maintain and enhance the quality of our food and drink, whilst creating new opportunities for processors. This will help support our vital food and drink industry during this difficult time, to help achieve sustainable economic growth of the sector to reach £10 billion by 2017.

"Our cross-cutting food and drink policy aims to join up government working on every part of the food chain from farm gate to plate. The fascinating work outlined today highlights the valuable contribution made by our world-class scientific researchers."

Ms Robison said:

"A nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle can help us get the most out of life. They give us more energy, better physical and mental wellbeing and help combat serious health problems.

"We have a lot of work to do to help people to improve their eating habits and it is exciting to hear evidence from Scottish scientists that can inform the choices we make as individuals, communities and as a country.

"Making the right choices about what we eat and drink, is not only good for our own health but also good for the Scottish businesses that grow, process and manufacture our food."

The special briefing at the Scottish Parliament was organised to update the Ministers on some of the work being carried out at Scotland's environmental, agricultural and biological research institutes which are internationally renowned for the high quality of their work.

Scientists from the University of Aberdeen's Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, Macaulay Institute, Moredun Research Institute, Scottish Agricultural College and the Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI) explained how they are working across the whole supply chain to improve methods of production, processing and supply and help develop healthy food and drink choices to improve the Scots diet.

Much of this research is supported by Scottish Government funding of approximately £60 million per year, as part of the main research areas of the Government's five year scientific programme 2005 to 2010. The programme comprises four main elements:

  • Profitable and sustainable agriculture - plants
  • Profitable and sustainable agriculture - animals
  • Environment - land use and rural stewardship
  • Impacts on human health, and three cross-cutting themes
  • Responding to climate change
  • Protecting Biodiversity
  • Environmental, Social and Economic Sustainability of Rural Scotland

Backed by over £56 million, earlier this year the Scottish Government published 'Healthy Eating, Active Living; An Action Plan To Improve Diet, Increase Physical Activity and Tackle Obesity'. For the first time, this brought together - in one ambitious plan - the actions the Scottish Government is taking to improve diet, to increase physical activity and to tackle obesity.

Related Information

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Business-Industry/Food-Industry/scientistsbriefing

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2008/06/20155902/0

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