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Australia’s dietary guidelines and the environmental impact of food “from paddock to plate”

Med J Aust 2013; 198 (1): 18-19. || doi: 10.5694/mja12.10528

Our guidelines need to do more for the health of the planet as well as the population

A draft revision of Australia’s dietary guidelines was released by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for public comment in December 2011.1 Although comprehensive with respect to nutrition, there is minimal reference in the guidelines to the environmental impact of the food supply and what food choices consumers can make to minimise this impact. Continuing to consume food that has a large ecological footprint will threaten our future food supply. As ensuring food security and minimising the environmental impact of food are intrinsically linked, it is time that all involved in making recommendations about food consumption start taking this food and environmental interconnection into account. Recently, the NHMRC released a draft appendix to the revised dietary guidelines, Australian dietary guidelines through an environmental lens.2 Although this draft appendix acknowledges the critical need to consider the environmental impact of food “from paddock to plate”, the recommendations made are limited, fairly generic and need to be strengthened.

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  • Linda A Selvey1
  • Marion G Carey2

  • 1 School of Public Health, Curtin University, Perth, WA.
  • 2 Monash Sustainability Institute, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC.


Competing interests:

We are both on the management committee of Doctors for the Environment Australia and are members of the Australian Conservation Foundation. Linda Selvey was formerly the Chief Executive Officer of Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

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