McDonald’s shows DEFRA how it’s done

The new buying standards introduced by the Government in September are weaker than those in fast food outlets like McDonald’s.


New research carried out by the ‘Good food for our money campaign’  compared the government’s food procurement standards with those of McDonald’s in five key areas.


In three cases (eggs, milk and fairly traded coffee) the environmental and ethical standards of food served by McDonald’s 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 McDonald’s was equivalent to the standards introduced by the Government.


However, the Government’s 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 campaign’s co-ordinator, said the new standards are “feeble”. He told Foodservice Footprint that the fish standards were not complicated and yet Defra didn’t seem to “have a clue what it was doing”.


Jackson recently went head to head with Defra Minister Jim Paice on BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today, to debate the department’s failures.


At the time the Minister promised to deal with the situation “immediately”. He explained: “We’ve said that all of our fish must come from sustainable sources, and I’m not prepared to accept anything less. It’s completely unacceptable for our caterers to miss any target and I’m 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 November’s Foodservice Footprint with an analysis on what these failures mean for public sector caterers.