A NEW cross-party report has called on the Government to update public sector food procurement standards and support small producers.

In its latest report, Public Sector Procurement of Food, the cross-party EFRA Committee calls on the Government to pull its Buying Standards for Food (GBSF) into the new decade, address outdated standards on nutrition and animal welfare, and close loopholes in the existing rules.

Noting the startling lack of monitoring of existing food procurement standards, including by Government departments and NHS hospitals, the report also demands action to push bodies to ensure compliance.

The committee also expresses disappointment that Government Buying Standards have not, thus far, been used as a vehicle to support British producers. It urges the Government to place greater focus on factors such as seasonality that would support British producers within procurement rules.

Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border and member of the EFRA Select Committee, said: “Our cross-party report makes strong and clear recommendations to Government on the importance of upholding high animal welfare and food production standards in our domestic food procurement.

“We have a duty to the British public who value the importance of knowing that their food is produced to the highest standards. We can be a beacon to the rest of the world in this by showing that we will not compromise our high animal welfare standards here in the UK.

"Our report also makes the strong case for supporting local British suppliers in our public food procurement which is a good thing on ethical, economic and environmental grounds.”