News / Good Food for Our Money Campaign

Secretary of State lampooned in Parliament over Government food standards

Shadow Food and Farming Minister Huw Irranca-Davies MP today challenged Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs, to 'stop clowning around with food standards' and 'catch up with Ronald McDonald'.

In Parliament this morning Shadow Food and Farming Minister Huw Irranca-Davies MP, addressed Caroline Spelman MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, stating:

“Mr Speaker, a key way to support British food production and high food standards is through public procurement. Yet DWP [Department for Work and Pensions] are sourcing only 11% of food from UK producers, Defra is failing on its own policy of sourcing sustainable fish, and the new ethical standards for food served in public institutions are ridiculed in a report for being even weaker than those at McDonald’s.”

Mr Irranca-Davies completed his statement by asking Ms Spelman:

“Will the Secretary of State stop clowning around with food standards and UK food production jobs, and at least - please - try to catch up with Ronald McDonald”.

The Secretary of State responded by stating that the Government expected the highest standards of British producers.  However, the new report referred to by Mr Irranca-Davies [1] reveals that recent compulsory environmental and ethical standards for food served in public institutions are weaker than McDonald’s fast food standards.  

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 [2] represents a coalition of more than 60 organisations including Compassion in World Farming, Friends of the Earth, RSPCA, the Soil Association and WWF UK.

Charlie Powell, 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 or interviews, please contact Charlie Powell or Jeanette Longfield on 0203 5596 777 or 07817 746786.


Notes to Editor

[1] ‘Dishing out failing food standards – How Government Buying Standards for our food fall below McDonald’s fast food standards’ can be downloaded from https://www.sustainweb.org/publications/?id=197  

[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 https://www.sustainweb.org/goodfoodforourmoney/

[3] Government Buying Standards guidance notes, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs http://sd.defra.gov.uk/documents/GBS-guidance-food.pdf

[4] All McDonald’s food standards are available at http://www.mcdonalds.co.uk/ourfood/index.shtml

 

 

Sheep farmer. Credit: Cottonbro | Pexels

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Published 24 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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