Former nuclear lobbyist shifts to food and drink

The UK's £66bn food and drink industry has brought in a former spokeswoman for the nuclear industry as its top lobbyist.

The Food and Drink Federation has appointed Miranda Kirschel to the newly created role of public affairs manager. She joins from the Nuclear Industry Association where she was corporate affairs manager, charged with influencing political opinion in favour of nuclear power.

The creation of a dedi­cated public affairs post rep­resents a concerted effort by the food and drink industry to step up
the fight against Government moves to clamp down on junk food.

Kirschel will lead the industry’s opposition to the ‘traffic light system’ for food labelling that has been dev­ised by the Food Standards Agency. The Food and Drink Federation has argued extensively that the FSA’s system is simplistic, unfair and scientifically in­accurate. Instead, it wants to see a lab­elling system based on ‘guideline daily amounts’.

She is also charged with influencing political opinion against Ofcom’s controversial ban on the advertising of junk food to children. And she will att­empt to convince legislators that future state intervention is ultimately unnecessary bec­ause the industry has already taken steps to reduce the levels of salt and sugar in food.

Kirschel reports to communications director Julian Hunt, who joined last year from a role as editor of The Grocer magazine.

Hunt said: ‘The key focus for Miranda will be building the food industry’s profile on ­issues such as food and health with the parliament­ary audience. The FDF said it had no plan to review its ­account with Bell Pottinger Public Affairs.

Kirschel will face strong opposition from health campaigners who claim drastic action is needed to halt rising levels of obesity in Britain.

However, she is experienced in lobbying for tough causes. In her previous role, Kirschel had to defend the nuclear industry against the charge that nuclear power is uneconomic and potentially dangerous. She achieved success last July when the Government’s energy review gave the go-ahead for a new wave of UK power stations.

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