Ministry of Justice: Food

Ministry of Justice written question – answered at on 10 September 2021.

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Photo of Philip Dunne Philip Dunne Chair, Environmental Audit Committee, Chair, Environmental Audit Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps he has taken to encourage procurement of British produce within meals available for (a) staff of his Department and (b) people in his Department's care since 1 January 2021.

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

a) Meals for staff across the Department are primarily provided by each individual member of staff though some meals are available across the following environments, namely

- Prisons – the procurement of produce for such meals is similar to the provision of meals for people in his Department’s care;

- Other (Courts, Approved Premises, Training Centres, Offices, etc) – several of our locations have a limited catering facility where food is available from the third party operator.

Our third party provided service contracts include a requirement that all procured produce needs to comply with the Government Buying Standards, for example

- All food served must be produced in a way that meets UK legislative standards for food production, or equivalent standards.

- Catering contractors must ensure that food is verifiable as meeting these standards by either checking that farm inspection systems meet UK standards of inspection or their equivalent, or if not, that they are subject to an independent assurance system.

- At least 10% of the total monetary value of primary commodity (that is, raw ingredient) food and drink procured shall be inspected and certified to:

i) publicly available Integrated Production (IP) or Integrated Farm Management (IFM) standards that require the systematic and integrated management, at farm level, of: natural habitats and biodiversity, prevention and control of pollution, energy, water and waste, management of soils, landscape and watercourses and contain within their scope requirements that are consistent with the definition of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) contained in European Council Directive 2009/128/EC or ii) publicly available organic standards compliant with European Council Regulation 834/2007 on organic production and labelling of organic products.

Please note the 10% is of the total monetary value and can be made up of any combination of commodities allowing the procurer flexibility to find the best solutions for their circumstances.

b) Since 1 January 2021 we have embedded the Prison Bread contract that was openly competed in late 2020 culminating in award and go live in November 2020. This national contract ensures that all public sector prisons in England & Wales, as well as privately managed prisons that opt to make use of this contract, have access to fresh bread that is 100% British.

Product provenance remains a key criterion when our contracted supplier of Prison Food adjusts their supply chain. Within this contract we continue to monitor spend on UK products every month and this has seen our spend increase on UK produce since the contract was awarded in 2017. At the time of contract award we were the first central government department to fully integrate the tools made available in support of the report by Dr Peter Bonfield titled - A Plan for Public Procurement. Elements of these tools have been deployed in 2021 on our Prison Retail Contract procurement exercise so that UK legislative standards for animal welfare, the environment and supply chain assurance all form part of the tender evaluation.

We continue to engage closely with other central government colleagues in order to refine policies and procedures that are aimed at supporting UK food producers. Earlier this week we engaged with the Future Food Framework/Buying Better Food*, led by Crown Commercial Service and supported by the South West Food Hub, on their delivery of a new dynamic approach to public sector food procurement which has locality at its heart.

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