Mon 15 Jul, 2013

Research by the Scottish Greens shows a stark divide in Scotland's cities when it comes to buying local for school meals.

Using FoI (Freedom of Information) requests the Scottish Greens asked local authorities covering Scotland's cities about the sourcing of chicken for school meals, after the Scottish Government said it did not keep track of such information.

Only Stirling serves Scottish chicken - sourcing 90 per cent of it from Scotland and ten per cent from elsewhere in the UK. Stirling is involved in the Soil Association's Food for Life scheme, which sets standards for sourcing food locally.

By contrast there is no Scottish chicken at all in school meals in Inverness, Aberdeen, Dundee, Perth, Glasgow or Edinburgh.

Dundee and Perth, who share the same supplier, and Aberdeen were able to put figures on the percentage of UK chicken (14% for Dundee and Perth and 30% for Aberdeen).

Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Perth and Aberdeen all source a chicken product from Thailand, while Edinburgh, Dundee, Perth and Inverness (Highland) all source a chicken product from Holland.

No UK chicken sourced by these councils is free range; it is all indoor reared.

Green MSPs are looking at opportunities in the forthcoming Procurement Reform Bill to increase the incentives for buying Scottish produce.

Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian and food spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said:

"There shouldn't be so much of a divide between the pioneer councils and the food laggards when it comes to something as important as our children's meals. I have longstanding concerns about imported meat and there's got to be a better way than flying chicken nuggets from Thailand.

“I commend the Food for Life scheme and in light of the horsemeat scandal I feel it is the sort of scheme all public bodies should be adopting with some urgency. We must aim for local, high quality food on our children’s plates as the norm. The Government's Procurement Bill should be a chance to set some new standards to achieve that aim.

“Councils are under pressure to award contracts on cost rather than make choices that would have positive impacts for the local economy and animal welfare. The Scottish Government's food policy is too focused on exporting whisky and salmon and needs to do more to get local food used in meals bought with public money.”

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