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Catering

Volume 475: debated on Tuesday 13 May 2008

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what proportion of chicken served in the House of Commons estate was produced under the RSPCA's Freedom Food scheme in the most recent period for which figures are available; and if the Commission will make it its policy to provide such figures annually. (205255)

Since January 2008, the House of Commons Catering Service has secured a supply of chicken produced under the RSPCA's Freedom Food scheme, and this now accounts for almost 40 per cent. of the Department's purchases of fresh chicken meat. The quality, reliability and relative affordability of this supply has enabled the Department to move forward from a position in 2007 when less than 10 per cent. of chicken supplied for the House of Commons restaurants met higher welfare standards consistent with those developed by the RSPCA.

Subject to availability and affordability constraints, the Catering Service aspires to further increase the proportion of higher welfare chicken purchased, and met with representatives of Freedom Food earlier this month to discuss how this might be achieved.

The Commission does not publish detailed food procurement statistics, but the director of Catering and Retail Services will be happy to provide periodic details about the proportion of chicken sourced from RSPCA Freedom Food approved sources. The director has suggested that this could be published as part of a regular update on food provenance issues that is being developed for the Catering and Retail Services intranet pages.

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what proportion of meat produce served in the House of Commons was Freedom Food-approved in the most recent period for which figures are available. (205256)

All fresh meat served in the House of Commons is sourced from producers that demonstrate high levels of animal welfare under an accredited farm assurance scheme such as the ‘Red Tractor’ scheme, which encompasses ‘Assured British Pigs’ and ‘Assured British Meat’. All pork is free range.

Other than chicken, no meat currently served in the House of Commons restaurants is accredited under the RSPCA's Freedom Foods scheme. However, the director of Catering and Retail Services met with Freedom Food representatives earlier this month to discuss the supply of pork, beef and lamb and to identify ways of working together to establish a supply chain.