The Conservatives have criticised the government for having no idea how much publicly-procured food is of British origin.

The disclosure came in response to a written parliamentary question by shadow minister for agriculture and rural affairs Jim Paice.

“I find it absolutely astonishing that the government spends £1.8bn each year on public sector food yet has absolutely no idea how much of it is of British origin,” said Mr Paice.

“The public sector food budget could make a massive contribution to reducing food miles and boosting the rural economy but the government doesn’t even bother to monitor how this money is spent.

“DEFRA recently preached that ‘sustainable food procurement isn’t just about nutrition. It’s about where food comes from, how it’s produced and transported’ yet the government knows none of these things.
 
“The minimum the government should do is ensure all publicly procured food meets the Little Red Tractor standard, as the Conservatives proposed a year ago.

“Whilst it does not guarantee a British source at least the food would have been produced to British standards.”

In response to Mr Paice’s parliamentary question, junior DEFRA minister Ben Bradshaw answered: “The Department is not aware of any central source of information on the proportion of publicly-procured food that was of British origin in 2005.”