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House of Commons Hansard
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23 March 2010
Volume 508
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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will take steps to ensure that the meat and dairy products procured by his Department and its non-departmental bodies are free range or produced to standards equivalent to those of the RSPCA Freedom Food scheme. [323065]

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The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) takes account of advice received from the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when establishing procurement arrangements for the purchase of food.

The Department receives procurement services from Central Procurement Division in the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP). DFP also published guidance in 2008, ‘Integrating Sustainable Development into the Procurement of Food and Catering Services’, which aims to develop the partnership between the public sector in Northern Ireland and its food suppliers as part of the procurement process.

Guidance produced by DEFRA under the Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative also encourages and shows public sector bodies how they can specify higher animal welfare standards, including farm assurance schemes and higher level schemes such as the RSPCA's Freedom Food standards.