Updated Healthy Eating Guidelines Guide to Improve Nation's Diet

Monday, 28 January 2019

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) today published the updated Healthy eating, food safety and food legislation – a Guide Supporting the Healthy Ireland Food Pyramid. The Guide describes in colourful detail how to make the best food choices for health and provides practical advice to protect people in Ireland from 5 years of age onwards against diet-related ill health. It will be of interest to health professionals, catering services and food businesses to support their work and enable them to provide safe and trustworthy information to consumers about food. It was launched by Catherine Byrne, Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Health Promotion.

According to Dr Pamela Byrne, CEO, FSAI – we live in an age where there are so many confusing messages and information about food and nutrition and this Guide provides independent and unbiased science-based advice that people can trust. It covers how to make the best food choices from every angle – nutritional quality, food safety and food law. It is a comprehensive Guide that health professionals can use to help consumers make more informed food choices and that the food industry can use to provide the best food choices for consumer benefit.

    “It is a combination of international best practice with up-to-date Irish research to ensure the advice meets the specific dietary needs of the Irish population. It provides food-based advice that protects people from five years of age onwards against diet-related ill health such as heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes, which are major causes of ill health in Ireland. It gives this advice across four age groups from 5 to 51+years with distinct information for those leading active and non-active lifestyles.”

Developed, in conjunction with the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive, the guide covers portion sizes and servings; tips for choosing the healthiest types of foods, as well as reducing risks during cooking. It also covers:

 Nutritional composition - how various foods best meet different people’s needs
Food safety – microbiology, harmful bacteria, viruses and how these can be minimised
Food law - to ensure businesses are aware of legal requirements to provide consumers with accurate information on nutritional labelling and allergen declarations

Catherine Byrne, Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy stated: “I am delighted to welcome the publication of this FSAI resource to support our Healthy Ireland Food Pyramid and the implementation of the Healthy Eating Guidelines. The Guide is an important tool which provides additional information for health professionals, catering services and food businesses and ensures consistent healthy eating messages.”

Incorporating clear graphics and illustrations, this visual Guide provides easy access to complex information. There is a particularly useful section on the safe and advantageous cooking methods and tips on how to eat healthily on a budget. It also highlights the role of categories of foods most beneficial to health and recommends age-appropriate portion sizes. An extended section in the book on meat, poultry, and fish sets out information for vegetarian diet options using eggs, beans, lentils and nuts. The Guide advises on how best to introduce gradual change for those who wish to try a vegetarian-friendly diet, for example, through bulking up meat dishes such as stews and mince with beans, lentils and vegetables. This includes preparation and cooking methods for these foods.