Food Prices and Food Poverty
Opposition Day — [Un-allotted Day]
Caroline Spelman (Secretary of State, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Meriden, Conservative)
I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention. The Competition Commission clearly keeps the practices of retailers under scrutiny and sees a benefit in independent adjudication of fairness in the supply chain.
I shall turn to other points in the motion. The hon. Member for Wakefield espouses the virtues of the Healthy Start programme, which this Government have continued, and no one will argue with the role of food banks, which are an excellent example of the big society. They are not new, as churches have been redistributing food in that way down the decades, and we are four-square behind organisations such as FareShare, which do excellent work in the field.
In making it easier for shoppers, this Government have wasted absolutely no time in working with the food industry to simplify food date labelling. Last autumn I made it clear that one date should appear on the label, so that there is no confusion between “use by”, “use
before”, “display until” or “store until”. There should be one date: if the product is perishable, the label should state “use by”, for food safety; if it is not, the label should state “best before”. In that way, we can certainly help people to reduce the amount of food that goes to waste.