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Volume 460: debated on Wednesday 9 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking under the public sector food procurement initiative to encourage public sector bodies to purchase non-cage eggs when procuring food and meals; and if he will make a statement. (135588)

The public sector food procurement initiative does not have specific guidance on purchasing eggs. Key objectives of the initiative, which apply to all food purchases, include increasing tendering opportunities for small and local food producers, raising standards of production, and addressing barriers to supply.

DEFRA’s Procurement and Contracts Division has included a model specification clause on farm assurance standards in the public sector food procurement initiative’s catering toolkit. This is helping to raise the profile of animal welfare in public sector food procurement and facilitate the purchase of products from welfare friendly producers.

In the longer term, the European Commission’s “Community Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2006-10” proposes quantifiable animal welfare indicators and an EU welfare labelling scheme for products produced from high welfare protection systems. This should enable public sector purchasers to make more informed decisions.