Government Buying Standards

The Good Food For Our Money Campaign (part of Sustain) includes salt recommendations as part of their response to the Government Buying Standards consultation

1st February 2011

Some key issues raised in the response include:

  1. Salt recommendations

The proposed standards state that in order to reduce salt intake 

  • Vegetables will be cooked without added salt
  • At least 50% of procured meat and meat products, breads, breakfast cereals, soups and cooking sauces, ready meals and pre-packed sandwiches (procured by quantity) meet FSA salt targets and all stock preparations are lower salt varieties (i.e. below 0.6g/100mls reconstituted) 
  •  Salt is not available on tables 

However, it is unclear from the proposal how the categories of food were chosen and why other categories were excluded, for instance savoury snacks, pizza, cheese and bakery products (including cakes, biscuits and pastries) were not mentioned. Both CASH and the Good Food For Our Money Campaign believe that all food products which are covered by FSA 2010/2012 salt targets should be included as part of the Government Buying Standards salt commitments.

It is also unclear why the percentage threshold for compliance was set at 50%. Both CASH and the Good Food For Our Money Campaign recommend that 100% of the food products meet the specified salt targets, as there is no good reason for this to not be the case.

The proposal also fails to state which salt targets will be worked towards. As 2010 has now passed, CASH and the Good Food For Our Money Campaign recommend that 2012 targets are used, and that this is clearly stated in the final Government Buying Standards. 

 

   2. The omission of hospital food

The Government Buying Standards, as they currently stand, only apply to food provided in central government food outlets and not to food provided in the rest of the public sector. This means that key areas, most notably hospitals, are not covered by the proposed standards and therefore will have no clear standards which have to be met. This is of particular concern for children, who will eat regulated food when at school but if they become sick and spend time in hospital, the food that they eat will not need to be covered by any standards. Both CASH and the Good Food For Our Money Campaign believe that this is a serious omission from the guidelines and strongly believe that hospital food needs to be covered by any public sector food standards and guidelines. 

To read the full response to the consultation please click here

To read the National Heart Forum's endorsement of the response please click here