Scottish NHS praised for local sourcing

NHS boards in Scotland have been good at sourcing local meat for hospital meals according to a report published by the Scottish Parliament.

Dr Bill Wilson MSP, a member of the Scottish Parliament's Rural & Environment Committee, congratulated Tayside NHS Board in particular for making great efforts in sourcing meat from Scottish Farm-Assured produce as it would not only help local livestock farmers but play a part in helping the environment, as locally sourced produce has a much smaller carbon footprint.

Earlier this year, Dr Wilson wrote to all of Scotland's NHS Trusts to ask them to what extent they were implementing Quality Meat Scotland's (QMS) procurement recommendations. The document, produced by the West of Scotland MSP, revealed how stipulations with regard to quality, welfare and environmental impact could lead public bodies to purchase more Scottish Farm-Assured produce.

Summarising the major findings, Dr Wilson said: "The picture of NHS Boards procuring meat from locally produced sources is encouraging. In such uncertain economic times, it is a very encouraging sign that our NHS Boards are playing a part in helping Scottish livestock producers and those involved in the meat trade.

"Although European directives prohibit public procurement from explicitly considering the country of origin, because Scottish farmers produce quality products with high welfare standards and low environmental impact, it is entirely possible to honour that directive and support local producers."

However one area where there appeared to be scope for improvement, he said, was in the NHS Trusts' sourcing of pork products. "Scotland's pigs enjoy higher welfare standards than many overseas, so if welfare were a major consideration ? as I believe it should be ? then Scottish farmers would be justly rewarded for the care they take of their animals."

QMS chairman Donald Biggar said: "We began working five years ago to help public bodies with their red meat sourcing and I'm pleased to say we've made significant progress. All 32 of Scotland's local authorities are now putting sustainability at the heart of their supply policies and that's excellent news for the people who rely on them for quality, nutritious food.

"It's also good news for the 20,000 red meat businesses in Scotland. The meat bill for Scotland's public sector stands at 6m a year and we would like to see more of our companies getting the chance to compete for the business.

"As well as being able to supply excellent tasting beef, lamb and pork, they can be satisfied that all the meat comes with assurances on production standards all the way from the field to the fork."

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