Consultation on new GBSF launches

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The consultation on changes to public sector food and catering policy, including the Government Buying Standards for Food and Catering Services (GBSF) has launched and will remain open for 12 weeks, closing at one minute before midnight on September 4. 

With its proposed changes to the policy, the Government aims to establish public sector food and catering as an exemplar to wider society in delivering positive health, animal welfare, environmental and socio-economic impacts. The Government says it is determined to use public sector purchasing power to ensure positive change in the food system.

The objectives of the new policy are to:

• Promote procurement of local, sustainable, healthier food and catering.

• Open up public sector supply chains to a wider range of companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to better support local economies, increase resilience, and encourage food producers to innovate. 

• Increase transparency of food supply chains to drive continuous improvement and build our understanding of what is bought, served, sold and wasted in the public sector. 

• Provide guidance and standards that are simple and engaging, reflect latest scientific evidence and national sustainability priorities, and clearly align with broader Government policies, such as the Defra waste hierarchy guidance and Government dietary recommendations.

Although the nutritional standards within the existing GBSF were reviewed and updated in July 2021, the other standards, relating to social, economic and environmental sustainability and animal welfare have not been updated since 2014. In 2021, public sector food procurement was the subject of an inquiry within the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee and also featured in Henry Dimbleby’s Independent National Food Strategy Report. Recommendations from both reports included: updating the GBSF to ensure procurement of healthy and sustainable food; making the standards mandatory across the public sector; improving and monitoring compliance with the standards; and opening up supply chains to wider range of businesses.

The Government has also published its new National Food Strategy.

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