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The National Program for Food: A Government Action - Eating well is everyone's business

The National Program for Food: A Government Action - Eating well is everyone’s business

Published on January 18, 2012
The National Program for Food (‘Programme National pour l’Alimentation’ - PNA) aims to give everyone the tools to discover, access and appreciate food in France. As it creates a strong partnership between farmers and consumers, its goal is to guarantee an adequate and affordable diet for all. Its motto and founding principle is ‘Eating well is everyone’s business.’
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Launched in September 2010 by ministries working on food and diet, the PNA adventure involves the private sectors, territorial authorities and the non-profit sector. The main challenges of this plan are to mobilize all stakeholders of the food chain, to recreate a link between the food producer, the product and the consumer, and above all to value the French gastronomic and culinary heritage.

In order to cover all topics related to our food, the PNA is organized around four complementary priorities with 86 actions:

TO FACILITATE THE ACCESS TO QUALITY FOOD FOR ALL

It is essential to make healthy diet affordable for the most at-risk people (children and teenagers, elderly people, people in hospital, others).

Numerous actions are carried out with the cafeterias to improve the taste and nutritional quality of meals: implementation of mandatory dietary guidelines, training of professionals…

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Source: French Ministry of Agriculture - Pascal Xicluna

Some other actions aim to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables among children by, for example, the operation “one fruit for playtime” which provides a free fruit at least once a week to children during playtime at school.

TO DEVELOP A HIGH-QUALITY FOOD SUPPLY

Professionals of the food industry (producers, processors, cafeterias, retailers) work to improve the quality but also the security of the food supply produced and sold in France. For all types of food, a strengthening of safety and sustainability conditions are planned as well as an enhancement of organoleptic and nutritional composition.

To achieve this goal, several actions are carried out such as:

  • The ‘Ecophyto 2018’ plan which goal is to reduce the use of pesticides
  • The development of the local food production, organic farming, quality labels
  • The development of an offering of fruits, vegetables, dairy products adapted to new consumer trends (snack machines stocked fruits, delivering of fruits and vegetables at work....)

TO FOSTER KNOWLEDGE AND INFORMATION ABOUT FOOD

Consumers have to become more aware of the way of producing and processing food, by bringing consumers, farmers and the food industry closer together. Because of a more urban life, less and less people know where their food comes from or how it is processed, which leads to questions from consumers about the origin and the composition of their food. A greater transparency is therefore necessary as well as better information of the consumers about the benefits of the traditional French food model.

To meet this goal, the Ministry of Agriculture created a website dedicated to the consumer (alimentation.gouv.fr) about the way food is produced and the French Culinary heritage.

Special attention is paid to children. Indeed, eating habits are shaped during childhood. Therefore lots of actions take place in schools, such as “the class of taste” created to increase the sensorial awareness of children or the development of farm visits.

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Source: French Ministry of Agriculture

TO PROMOTE OUR FOOD AND CULINARY HERITAGE

The diversity of French food and French recipes is a wealth that must be forwarded to future generations. Promoting our heritage is an economic and cultural force. A large part of this goal is devoted to the transmission and sharing of this heritage that aimed the nomination of the French gastronomic meal as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

Various actions have been carried out, like the development of quality and origins labels, or the creation of a compilation of regional food and recipes.

EVALUATION OF THE PROGRAM, ONE YEAR AFTER THE LAUNCH

In October 2011, to celebrate the first anniversary of the PNA, all partners of this program, public, private or volunteers organizations were gathered at the Ministry of Agriculture and Food to assess the progress made throughout the first year of its implementation and provide strategic directions for the future.

Some actions were applauded such as:

  • 500 000 children had benefited from the operation “One fruit for playtime” during the school year 2010-2011. This action is a symbol of the expectation of the PNA: nutrition education in school, public and private partnership, including the involvement of suppliers. The desire for success of the operation led to much flexibility of the procedures to facilitate its implementation, which resulted in almost doubling the number of children concerned every year.
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"One fruit for playtime"
Source: French Ministry of Agriculture
  • 44 guidelines for good hygiene practices have been published by the Ministry of Agriculture and made available for professionals. Seventy are currently being reviewed.
  • Since July 1st 2011, companies have been testing environmental labeling among consumers. Hundreds of products now bear a label listing their ecological impacts on climate, water, air and biodiversity. This program has two goals: to enable consumers to incorporate environmental criteria in their purchasing choices and to provide opportunities for firms to improve environmental characteristics of their products.
  • Students from 18 agricultural teaching establishments participated in the compilation of regional food and recipes by writing about their regional food and cooking heritage and so strengthen the inventory conducted by the National Council of Culinary Arts.

The National Program for Food has launched concrete measures for a great-tasting, healthy and safe food. One of the main issues of this program is to promote and to encourage the emergence of new actions, adapted to local consumer needs and based on voluntary actions. The mobilization of many working groups and partners from different backgrounds (farmers, food industry, consumers, etc...) continues to participate in the rise of innovative projects.

You might also be interested in these articles:
- The National Health and Nutrition Program
- Diversity and Quality symbols: The Agricultural Roots that make French Cuisine so Special
- French Culinary Heritage: Passing it On (Video)

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54.2

54.2 pounds is the average quantity of cheese eaten every year by a French person