Britain needs a dedicated food minister because growing numbers of people don’t know how to cook.

That’s the warning from healthy eating crusader and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver on his latest mission to improve the nation’s diet.

Speaking at a Parliamentary Health Committee meeting yesterday, Oliver said: “I would like to see someone from the private sector with real savvy, who could inspire and motivate local authorities.

“I think I’m best off on the outside – so I wouldn’t take the job. But I would be happy to find someone.”

The minister would need a budget of around £6.5bn, he estimated, because the country was entering a new poverty he hadn’t seen before – “a poverty of being unable to nourish their family”.

A recession could deepen the problem, he warned.