New Food and Catering buying standards announced
Food Minister Jim Paice has today announced the first Government Buying Standards for food and catering services, ensuring that Government departments and agencies buy more sustainable food and give small and local producers fair access to public contracts worth up to £2 billion a year.
The new standards will cover procurement of food produced to higher sustainability and nutritional standards, and more sustainable catering operations. Providing minimum mandatory requirements and voluntary best practice, the standards will require all fish served in Government departments and their agencies to come from sustainable sources.
The standards will come into force for all new catering contracts from September 2011, covering food and catering services procured by Government departments and their agencies, including the armed services and prisons:
- All food should be produced to UK or equivalent production standards where this does not increase overall costs;
- More food must be produced to higher environmental standards;
- At least 50 per cent of tea and coffee must be fairly traded;
- Fresh produce should be seasonal;
- Food waste must be minimised.
Food Minister Jim Paice explained that the standards will support British farmers and hoped that the wider public sector willow follow the example of central Government:
“This is the delivery of a Government promise to ensure that we do not use taxpayers money to undermine our own farmers’ high standards of production. By doing so, we’re practising what we preach and challenging the rest of the public sector to follow.”
Anne Milton, Minister for Public Health, stressed the provision of healthier choices under the new standards:
“The standards show that Government is leading by example – by making sure there are healthier choices for people and that people have the right information at hand so they can choose healthier food more easily.”
The standards have been developed by Defra and the Department of Health based on a full economic impact assessment and review by a wide range of stakeholders including catering and food suppliers, other Government Departments, sustainability NGOs and consumer groups.
Government Buying Standards for other major products and services have also been thoroughly revised to ensure they represent value for money for the taxpayer while helping to deliver our Greening Government Commitments.
The standards that have been agreed cover:
- Sustainably sourced fish;
- Animal welfare;
- UK or equivalent production standards where this does not increase overall costs;
- Higher environmental standards, such as organic or Integrated Production (e.g. LEAF) for a proportion of food;
- Seasonal produce;
- Fairly traded produce;
- Energy and Waste management;
The Mayor's Green Procurement Code can help Local Authorities work to these, and help businesses to be in a position to supply.
More information can be found here.