European food law is on our side! How the EU Public Procurement Directive supports sustainable food

This fact sheet is published by Good Food for Our Money, which is campaigning for compulsory health and environmental standards in public sector food. Some public sector institutions say that they believe that European public procurement rules stop them from specifying environmental, ethical, health, social and animal welfare ('sustainable food') criteria in catering contracts paid for from the public purse. This fact sheet shows that in fact, both EU law and UK government policy strongly support sustainable food procurement in the public sector.


European food law is on our side! How the EU Public Procurement Directive supports sustainable food in the public sectorSome public sector institutions say that they believe that European public procurement rules stop them from specifying environmental, ethical, health, social and animal welfare (‘sustainable food’) criteria in catering contracts paid for from the public purse.

This fact sheet is published by Good Food for Our Money, which is campaigning for compulsory health and environmental standards in public sector food.

The fact sheet shows that both EU law and UK government policy strongly support sustainable food procurement in the public sector. We summarise the situation as follows. Under the EU Public Procurement Directive:

  1. Public money can be spent on sustainable food
  2. Public sector institutions can specify sustainable food in contracts
  3. Public sector institutions can give weighting to sustainable development criteria in specifications
  4. There are just a few (reasonable) conditions
“Public procurement can shape production and consumption trends – and a significant demand from public authorities for ‘greener’ goods will create or enlarge markets for environmentally friendly products and services.”
European Commission, Communication on Green Public Procurement, 2008
“Government expects all public sector purchasers to use their procurement spend to support sustainable development, including environmental aims.”
UK Office of Government Commerce, Buy Green & Make a Difference:How to address environmental issues in public procurement, 2008
“Public procurement has an important part to play in furthering the Government’s agenda for tackling social issues. Social issues can be legitimately addressed within the policy and legal framework governing public procurement.”
UK Office of Government Commerce, Buy and Make a Difference:How to address social issues in public procurement, 2008
“The NHS spends more than £20 billion per annum on goods and services. This gives it the opportunity to influence improvement in labour standards across healthcare supply chains. Failure to identify and address labour standards abuses, both for goods and services provision, presents a significant risk to the reputation and ethical standing of NHS organisations.”
Purchasing and Supply Agency (PASA), Ethical Procurement for Health Guidance, 2009

01/06/2009
Good Food for Our Money Campaign

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