HPS Weekly Report
09 Oct 2018
Volume 52 No. 40
Consultation: reducing the health harms of foods high in fat, sugar or salt
The Scottish Government is consulting with the public and food and retail industries on restricting the in-store marketing and promotion of foods high in fat, sugar or salt that contain little or no nutritional benefit. The consultation is part of the ‘A healthier future – Scotland’s diet and healthy weight delivery plan’ and will inform assessments of impact and possible legislation.
The restrictions would cover confectionery, sweet biscuits, crisps, savoury snacks, cakes, pastries, puddings and soft drinks with added sugar. Views are being sought on whether to also cover ice-cream and dairy desserts.
The proposed restrictions would apply to targeted foods and would include, among other things, multi-buys, display at checkouts, purchase rewards such as vouchers and loyalty card points, unlimited refills and upselling of increased sizes or extra products and other marketing activities where they are being sold.
The consultation is open until 9 January 2019 and is available on the Scottish Government website
Climate change: £600k fund for projects in Malawi and Zambia
£600,000 is being awarded to Scottish-based organisations working with partners in Malawi and Zambia under the Scottish Government’s Climate Justice Innovation Fund, which empowers communities to respond to a changing environment.
Projects supported include training in ‘climate smart’ agricultural practices, testing the use of artesian water for sustainable farming and piloting the use of solar ovens and biogas as a fuel source.
Between 2012 and 2021, the Climate Justice Fund will make at least £21 million available to support projects in some of the world’s poorest countries. Climate justice is grounded in a human rights-based approach to tackling the effects of climate change and additional background information can be found on the Scottish Government website
Environmental compliance of Scottish business exceeds 90% for third year in a row
Statistics detailing the environmental performance of Scottish regulated businesses and other organisations in 2017 have been published by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). The results recorded that 90.97% of sites were regarded as ‘excellent’, ‘good’ or ‘broadly compliant’.
A key part of SEPA’s regulatory strategy, ‘One planet prosperity’, is to drive all businesses not yet meeting standards into full compliance with the environmental laws in Scotland. SEPA’s Compliance Assessment Scheme (CAS) rates an operator’s environmental performance against their licence conditions. The annual results enable SEPA to take a targeted approach which focuses on high risk operations and under-performing sites more frequently than compliant or low risk activities.
The environmental performance of Scotch whisky remains one of the nation’s highest achieving sectors with over 90% compliance for the fourth year in a row. Of the 172 licences assessed in 2017 for water abstraction, water discharges and effluent quality standards, 162 accomplished ‘excellent’, ‘good’ and ‘broadly compliant’ ratings, bringing the overall compliance in the sector to 94.19% for the calendar year.
Source: SEPA, 5 October 2018
Scotland doubles funding for marine plastics innovation
More support for innovative projects aimed at tackling marine plastic pollution has been announced by Scotland’s Environment Secretary.
A total of £1 million is now available for projects which can either prevent plastics from entering the marine environment or present operational solutions to capture, collect, recover and reprocess marine plastics.
More information and details on how to apply for funding are available on the Zero Waste Scotland website
Pesticide usage in Scotland
On 3 October 2018, Scotland’s Chief Statistician published three reports in relation to pesticide usage in Scotland. These were:
- Pesticide usage in Scotland: outdoor vegetable crops 2017
- Pesticide usage in Scotland: grassland and fodder crops 2017
- Pesticide usage in Scotland: rodenticides on grassland and fodder farms 2017
Taking into account changes in crop area, the 2017 total pesticide treated area for outdoor vegetable crops was almost a fifth lower (18%) than that reported in 2015 and 6% lower than 2013. The weight of pesticides applied to vegetable crops in 2017 was 16% lower than in 2015, but very similar to that encountered in 2013. The application of fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and seed treatments in 2017 decreased from the 2015 survey (21, 20, 19 and 18% decreases in treated area respectively). Only the use of molluscicides increased (37% increase in treated area).
Pesticide applications to Scottish fodder crops in 2017 were almost a third lower than in the previous survey in 2013. 63% of fodder crops were treated with a pesticide in 2017, which received on average 1.4 pesticide sprays with a total combined application weight of eight tonnes.
Overall pesticide application to grass crops in 2017 was very similar to that reported in the previous survey in 2013. The proportion of grass crops treated with a pesticide was very low; pesticides (almost exclusively herbicides) were applied to 4% of grassland and less than 0.5% of rough grazing.
It was estimated that rodenticides were used on 35% of grass and fodder farms in 2017, a decrease from the 43% using rodenticides in 2013. More than 99% of rodenticides used were second generation anticoagulants.
An estimated 130 tonnes of rodenticide products were used on grassland and fodder farms. This is a decrease of 40% since the previous survey in 2013. These products contained less than 7kg of rodenticide active substance.
Health workers vaccinate 306,000 people in Yemen against cholera
More than 306,000 people in Yemen, including over 164,000 children under the age of 15, were vaccinated against cholera as part of a joint WHO-UNICEF campaign that concluded on 5 October 2018.
The six-day vaccination effort, carried out by 3,000 health workers in three districts in Hudaydah and Ibb, was made possible by a pause in fighting agreed by parties involved in the conflict.
Since April 2017 there have been over 1.2 million suspected cholera cases and 2,515 associated deaths in the country, one of the worst outbreaks in recent history. Vaccination is critical to preventing further spread of the disease.
Before the end of the year, many more people will need to be vaccinated against cholera, and millions more children immunized against polio, measles, pneumonia and other preventable diseases.
Source: WHO, 5 October 2018
Scottish national flu vaccination launches
The Scottish national flu vaccination programme is now underway. Those eligible to receive the vaccine are being urged to act early and get protected ahead of winter.
The following groups are eligible for the flu vaccine:
- those aged 65 years of age and over;
- those over six months of age with a medical condition which puts them in an ‘at risk’ group such as asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, heart and lung diseases or autoimmune disorders;
- NHSScotland workers;
- unpaid carers;
- pregnant women (including those with ‘at risk’ conditions);
- children aged 2-11 years old. 2-5 year olds who are not yet in school will be vaccinated at their GP practice and 5-11 year olds will be vaccinated at school during the autumn term.
Figures show that on average, 1,918 people are hospitalised for flu or its complications each year in Scotland. The number of reported cases of flu more than doubled last winter and vaccination is recommended as the best defence against the virus.
MERS-CoV case in England (update)
Public Health England (PHE) has confirmed that there has been no onward transmission of MERS-CoV from the individual diagnosed with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the UK on 23 August 2018 (see current note 52/3403).
All close contacts were followed up after their last contact with the individual and none went on to develop the disease themselves. Additionally, 28 days have passed since the individual tested negative for MERS-CoV. PHE are therefore confident that there has been no onward transmission of the virus.
More information and guidance on MERS is available on our website
Source: PHE, 8 October 2018
ECDC rapid risk assessment update: Ebola virus disease outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, DRC
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has published an update to its rapid risk assessment examining the ongoing Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
As of 30 September 2018, the ministry of health of the DRC reported 161 probable and confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, making this the fourth largest outbreak of EVD recorded in DRC. Genetic analysis of the viral strains showed that there is no link between this outbreak and the one in Equateur province of DRC, reported in May this year.
The probability that EU/EEA citizens living or travelling in EVD-affected areas of DRC will be exposed to the disease is low, provided they adhere to the precautionary measures recommended in the rapid risk assessment.
There are no international airports in the affected areas of DRC that offer direct flights to EU/EEA member states, which limits the risk of the virus being introduced into the EU/EEA. The overall risk of introduction and further spread of Ebola virus within the EU/EEA is very low. However, the risk can only be eliminated by stopping transmission at local level.
The rapid risk assessment is available on the ECDC website
Source: ECDC, 5 October 2018