Councils urged to serve up more British food

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THE majority of the region’s local authorities could not tell the Yorkshire Post how much of the food they source is British.

More than £30m was spent on food by councils last year but only five provided figures which showed how much of the food they sourced was British in responses to Freedom of Information requests.

Councils who said they did not hold data on how much of their food was British included Wakefield, Hambleton, Harrogate, East Riding, Sheffield, Craven, Kirklees and Scarborough.

Calderdale Council also failed to provide a breakdown.

Alan Lee, Calderdale’s lead for corporate asset and facilities management, defended the council’s food sourcing policy, saying: “We aim to use locally produced food wherever possible, which means that the vast majority of the food that we buy is from local suppliers. The meals that we provide use ingredients from reputable suppliers where strict quality controls are in place. All of our menus are accredited by Food for Life, which means that our ingredients are high quality and are sourced ethically.”

But the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) wants local authorities to demonstrate greater commitment to local food producers.

Sharon Hockley, the NFU’s head of communications, said: “At a time when consumers are telling us they want to buy more British food we believe that this needs to be extended beyond retailers into all places where food is bought and consumed.

“We want to see all food services looking to supply more British food for British plates, and for more procurers of food to demand it’s British. The NFU is calling for everyone to Back British Farming because, in return, it delivers for Britain.”

North Yorkshire County Council spent £4.3m on food in 2012 and of that, 84.74 per cent was British - the highest proportion disclosed by any council in the region. The figure includes food supplied to schools and the staff restaurant at County Hall, Northallerton.

Elsewhere, 80 per cent of both Ryedale District Council and Wakefield Council’s food spend was on British food. North Lincolnshire Council said British food accounted for 81.9 per cent of their food expenditure and Hull City Council, 71 per cent.