Over the last two years, the Department has been developing a scheme to improve the nutritional content and sustainability of food served in the public sector, provisionally known as the Healthier Food Mark. The Department has been working across Government on this, and particularly closely with both the Food Standards Agency and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Two pilots, involving over 70 organisations from across the public sector, have been completed.
I am announcing today that the Healthier Food Mark will not be taken forward as a discrete scheme. Instead, the considerable body of evidence and learning from the development of both the nutrition and sustainability criteria will be used to help develop Government buying standards for food procurement in the public sector.
Government buying standards ensure that the public sector procures sustainable goods and services. They are mandatory for central Government Departments and their Executive agencies and are promoted to the wider public sector. The Government buying standards for food will take account of the evidence gained from the pilots of the Healthier Food Mark. DEFRA, working with the Department of Health and other Government Departments, will assess the costs and benefits of a number of options for criteria to be included in the Government buying standards for food to address both nutrition and sustainability. The standards will be consulted on in the autumn.