Campaigners have criticised the government for reneging on its commitment to make it compulsory for all meat bought by central government, including the armed forces, to meet British legal standards of production. The attack came after it was revealed that only 11% of food purchased by the Department for Work and Pensions – one of the biggest departments in central government – was produced by British farmers .
When the Coalition Government entered office it claimed it would increase the amount of British food bought in the public sector by introducing compulsory ‘Government Buying Standards’ for central government . This would include making all meat, dairy and vegetables meet Red Tractor standards .
Government has admitted that, while Government Buying Standards will be introduced for central government in September 2011 , they no longer include the commitment to Red Tractor. This has angered campaigners who believe that this is the only way to ensure that food bought by central government is produced to decent legal minimum standards – standards met by 78,000 British farmers.
Zac Goldsmith MP for Richmond and North Kingston , said: “It would be unthinkable in most other European countries not to invest the vast public food budget in a way that supports their struggling farmers, encourages sustainable farming and reduces food miles. It doesn’t add to the cost, and represents a classic win-win. We need to stop finding excuses and keep our pre-election promise to do the same”.
William Bain MP, Shadow Farming Minister , said: “£2bn of taxpayers’ money is spent on food each year in the public sector. Labour believes that this investment should be accompanied by Government ensuring that high quality food meeting UK production standards is served in our schools and hospitals as well as in Whitehall. It is an appalling u-turn by Tory-run DEFRA to scrap its commitment to the Red Tractor standards which would help meet these targets and secure best value for taxpayers’ money”.
Alex Jackson, co-ordinator of the Good Food for Our Money campaign , said: “This is a shocking u-turn from a government that promised to use taxpayers’ money to buy more British food in the public sector. While we believe that Red Tractor has weaknesses, it is a vital first step to get government buying even better British food in the public sector, including for our armed forces”.
For enquiries, please contact Alex Jackson on 0203 5596 777 or 07734 902909.
Notes to Editor
 The Department for Work and Pensions has published data which confirms that 11% of the food it buys is sourced from UK producers. This data is available at: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/gbs-food-catering.pdf
 The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs published an Impact Assessment for the introduction of Government Buying Standards in December 2010. This document included a requirement that all meat, dairy and vegetables meet Farm Assured (or Red Tractor) Standards of production. This document is available on request. To make this request please contact Alex Jackson 0203 5596 777 or firstname.lastname@example.org
 For more information please go to: http://www.myredtractor.co.uk/splash/
 The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs published Government Buying Standards in June 2011. A copy of the standards is available at:
 Zac Goldsmith MP was appointed by the Conservative party to head a “public sector food procurement taskforce” before the general election in 2010. One of the recommendations made by the taskforce was that food bought by the public sector should be required to meet Farm Assured Standards (i.e. Red Tractor) as a minimum standard. For more details about Zac please go to http://www.zacgoldsmith.com/
 William Bain MP for Glasgow North East and Shadow Farming Minister http://www.williebain.com/
 Good Food for Our Money campaign https://www.sustainweb.org/goodfoodforourmoney/
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Published 29 Aug 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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