Overcoming barriers to a Good Food Nation where the right to food is real

10 December 2019

Today, Obesity Action Scotland joined civil society organisations working on issues of health, environment, workers’ rights, animal welfare, social justice and food poverty to share a meal with MSPs outside of the Scottish Parliament in celebration of Human Rights Day. 

The event, organised by the Scottish Food Coalition, aimed to explore what the food system would look like if the human right to food was realised in Scotland, highlighting the barriers around accessing nutritious, sustainable food that are blocking our path towards a Good Food Nation.

Members wore high-vis jackets with barriers written on them, for example, insecure jobs, lack of land access, junk food advertising, and acted as physical barriers that MSPs had to navigate to be able to access the table of food.



They engaged MSPs in short conversations around the barriers blocking our path to achieving our Good Food Nation and after a brief discussion MSPs were invited to take a seat at the table, where they were served hearty, healthy, seasonal Scottish food.

Obesity Action Scotland Programme Lead, Lorraine Tulloch and Policy Officer, Anne Gryka-McPhail took part in the event, donning high-vis jackets displaying "junk food advertising", to demonstrate the difficulty in accessing healthy food when faced with barriers such as advertising, location promotions (e.g. at checkouts), meal deals and temporary price reductions on foods high in fat, sugar and/or salt.



Every one of us has a right to food, protected in international human rights laws signed up to by the UK. The coalition highlighted however, that this right is not incorporated into domestic law, meaning it is not enforceable in Scotland.

The organisations that convened outside the Scottish Parliament called on the Scottish Government to follow the example of 29 countries across the world which have given explicit protection to the right to food in their domestic laws.



Lorraine Tulloch, Programme Lead for Obesity Action Scotland said: 

“For too long the people in Scotland have been suffering the health consequences of a poor diet. We are outside of parliament on Human Rights Day supporting everyone’s right to food, which includes their right to access a healthy diet with dignity. It is essential that we improve the health of the food system, as it is inseparable to the health of the nation.”


The Scottish Food Coalition has 5 key asks for what any Good Nation Bill should incorporate:

  1. Incorporating the Right to Food under the UN Charter into Scots Law
  2. An independent statutory body to monitor progress across all aspects of food
  3. A cross-cutting national food plan
  4. New duties on public bodies to adhere to the right to food framework
  5. Statutory targets in key areas – e.g. food poverty, healthy weight, food waste