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Food Procurement

Transport written question – answered on 12th December 2011.

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Photo of Huw Irranca-Davies Huw Irranca-Davies Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps (a) her Department and (b) public bodies for which she is responsible are taking to ensure that they meet the Government's buying standards for food and catering.

Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport

The requested information about the steps DFT is taking to ensure it meets Government's buying standards for catering is as follows.

DFT Central Department

Across all food groups DFT's caterers achieve in excess of 70% compliance with Farm Assured, Red Tractor and The Marine Stewards Council guidelines, depending on the time of year. Fruit and vegetables are very difficult to comply with as many products are not available from UK producers. But where and when they are, they always buy UK if financially viable.

Highways Agency

The Highways Agency is currently considering how most effectively to reflect the Government's Buying Standard for food and catering services via the current contractual arrangements in place for food-based facilities to be provided at some of its office locations, and future such arrangements.


The Driving Standards Agency's contractor is developing contractually-binding agreements with its key food suppliers to ensure that they will adhere to guidance set out in the Government Buying Standards (GBS) document.

They have engaged with the Agency's main food supplier to review the specific criteria of the revised GBS document and are finalising the contract amendment.


DVLA procure all their food through the PFI Estates Contract. However, under schedule 13 of this contract, the service provider is obliged to comply with any Government guidance on sustainable food and farming, in delivering the Catering Service to the Agency. To ensure compliance, the service provider is required to produce all necessary, statutory reports relevant to the provision of the catering. A particular return required in this respect is, the 'Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative', which is produced annually and while we review and, in some cases challenge the data; there has to be a balance in terms of keeping the costs down.

Other Arm’s Length Bodies

The requested information is not held for the remainder of DFT's arm’s length bodies as they do not have catering contracts in place.

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