News / Good Food for Our Money Campaign

Government food falls below McDonald's standards

New research from Sustain shows Government has introduced food standards for public institutions which are weaker than those of McDonald's.

Today campaigners have attacked the Government for failing to lead by example after research [1] reveals that new compulsory environmental and ethical standards for food served in public institutions are weaker than McDonald’s fast food standards.

The research, carried out by the Good Food for Our Money campaign [2], compared new compulsory ‘Government Buying Standards’ for food bought by government departments, prisons and parts of the military to the standards of meals served by McDonald’s. It found that the environmental and ethical standard of food served at McDonald’s is either higher than or equivalent to ‘Government Buying Standards’.

Some comparisons include:

  • Eggs bought by the Government must be laid by hens living in “enriched” cages as a minimum, but McDonald’s serve only British free-range eggs [3]
  • 50% of coffee bought by the Government has to be fairly traded (e.g. Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance certification), but McDonald’s requires 100% of its coffee to meet this standard [3]
  • Milk bought by government has to have been produced to UK legal minimum standards of production, but McDonald’s serve only organic milk [3]

The Good Food for Our Money campaign represents a coalition of more than 60 organisations including Compassion in World Farming, Friends of the Earth, RSPCA, the Soil Association and WWF UK.

Alex Jackson, Co-ordinator of the campaign, said: “These new standards are feeble. If Government cannot even match McDonald’s food standards, how can anyone take seriously their claim to be the greenest government ever?”  


For enquiries, please contact Alex Jackson on 0203 5596 777.

Notes to Editor

[1] Click here to download the report "Dishing out failing food standards".

[2] The Good Food for Our Money campaign is calling on the Government to introduce high, and rising compulsory nutritional, environmental and ethical standards for all public sector food

[3] Government Buying Standards guidance notes, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

All McDonald’s food standards are available at

Sheep farmer. Credit: Cottonbro | Pexels

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Published 16 Nov 2011

Good Food for Our Money Campaign: The Good Food for Our Money campaign ran from 2008 to 2011. After several notable successes, this campaign has now evolved to focus on winning healthy and sustainable food standards for hospital food, in parallel with Sustain's existing work on the Children's Food Campaign to secure healthy and sustainable food standards for school meals.

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