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Food security in the Isle of Man 1 February 2013

The recent publicity surrounding the discovery of horse meat in beef burgers has highlighted the risks that extended supply chains and the demand for cheap food can present. Food security is of increasing concern to Governments around the world and the Isle of Man Government is working hard to develop a Food Security Strategy.

Apart from the risks associated with the global nature of food production, other issues affecting food security include climate change and its impact on the environment and agricultural production, the increasing world population and subsequent global competition for food and water, fuel costs and health issues such as obesity and poverty. It is predicted that by 2030, primarily as a result of population growth, the world will need to produce 50% more food and energy and make available 30% more drinking water, whilst, at the same time, mitigating and adapting to climate change.

The majority of the Isle of Man’s food is imported by sea and distributed by retailers. Weather patterns are predicted to become more turbulent so consideration must be given to the possible disruption of food deliveries. The role that locally produced food plays in protecting consumers from such disruption and providing fresh, quality produce will undoubtedly become more important over time.

DEFA Minister Phil Gawne MHK said: “There can be few things more important for a Government than to ensure good healthy food for its population. While food supply chains which increasingly extend beyond the Isle of Man and the UK can reduce costs, they also become more vulnerable to exceptional events such as the recent horse meat issue. The development of a Food Security Strategy for the Isle of Man is an important area of work, encompassing consideration of the future of our processors, our capacity for chilled storage and a range of other matters”.

“The simple message from the Department is that if you want to be sure what you’re eating and are looking for quality, fresh food, choose Manx!”

The Minister went on to say “As regards the recent horse meat incident, the Department’s Environmental Health team are kept up to date in relation to such issues by the UK’s Food Standards Agency. It is reassuring that this professional Agency works closely with our own officers to ensure that we can react quickly if the Isle of Man is affected. In addition to this, samples of food products in the Isle of Man are regularly sent to the Government Analyst for compositional, chemical and microbiological tests. The Isle of Man does therefore have an excellent framework in place to quickly identify and deal with food safety issues.”

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