Government Buying Standards for Food
At our last meeting before the summer recess we discussed the Government Buying Standards (GBS) for all food procured by Government Departments and their agencies, including the military and prisons. The standards, which were developed by Defra and the Department of Health, were announced in June 2011 and came into force for all new catering contracts from September 2011. The standards include requirements concerning the purchase of healthier ingredients and foods lower in salt, saturated fat and added sugars as well as the promotion of best practice in cooking and serving food to help consumers choose the healthier option. The standards also reflect official advice about a healthy diet so, for example, if caterers serve lunch and an evening meal, fish must be provided twice a week, including oily fish at least once a week. In addition to nutritional standards, the GBS cover wider issues such as labelling, packaging, food waste and animal welfare. The GBS also provide higher level criteria for Departments who wish to go further on portion size, calorie labelling and menu analysis. The Government has also published guidance on the new standards. The guest speakers were: Alex Jackson of Sustain: the Alliance for Better Food and Farming; and Eileen Steinbock, Head of Health and Nutrition, Brakes.