The new buying standards introduced by the Government in September are weaker than those in fast food outlets like McDonalds.
New research carried out by the Good food for our money campaign compared the governments food procurement standards with those of McDonalds in five key areas.
In three cases (eggs, milk and fairly traded coffee) the environmental and ethical standards of food served by McDonalds was shown to be higher than standards introduced by the Government. In two cases (fish and UK standards of production) the standards for food served by McDonalds was equivalent to the standards introduced by the Government.
However, the Governments lead department on food procurement, Defra, was recently embarrassed after it was found to be falling short of its own standards, including the one for sourcing sustainable fish.
Alex Jackson, the campaigns co-ordinator, said the new standards are feeble. He told Foodservice Footprint that the fish standards were not complicated and yet Defra didnt seem to have a clue what it was doing.
Jackson recently went head to head with Defra Minister Jim Paice on BBC Radio 4s Farming Today, to debate the departments failures.
At the time the Minister promised to deal with the situation immediately. He explained: Weve said that all of our fish must come from sustainable sources, and Im not prepared to accept anything less. Its completely unacceptable for our caterers to miss any target and Im going to make sure this is sorted out immediately.
That was exactly three weeks ago.
Compass, meanwhile, has said it is working closely with Defra and our suppliers to ensure that the highest sourcing objectives are met. A company statement also referred to its position as the largest supporter of Fairtrade in the UK foodservice industry.
Watch out for Novembers Foodservice Footprint with an analysis on what these failures mean for public sector caterers.