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18 Feb 2013

LACA is disappointed about the comments made by Iceland Chief Executive, Malcolm Walker in an interview on the BBC Andrew Marr Show yesterday in which he said that ‘local councils were driving down food standards’. He also referred to schools.

LACA disagrees with his comments as quite the reverse has happened in schools. Local authorities across the country have been totally supportive of driving food standards up in schools over the last few years.

From 2008/9, all state primary and secondary schools in England have been required to abide by tough Government’s Nutritional Standards for school food, with similar regulations in Scotland and Wales.

As a consequence, private and public sector providers have to adhere to stringent local authority procurement policies and procedures for sourcing and ensuring quality control of food products for school menus.

With monitoring and control tighter than ever before, quality of food served in schools has risen, not fallen.

The statement followed Walker’s appearance on television yesterday to discuss the unfolding story of horsemeat in the food chain.

The head of the supermarket chain criticised local authorities for being obsessed with price and consequently driving down the quality of food.

He said: “Supermarkets shouldn’t be blamed. British supermarkets have got a fantastic reputation for food safety.

“If we’re going to blame somebody, let’s start with local authorities because there’s a whole side of this industry which is invisible, that’s the catering industry.

“Schools, hospitals, it’s a massive business for cheap food and local authorities award contracts based purely on one thing: price.

"Dodgy cutting houses and backstreet manufacturers have been supplying products to the catering industry and a lot of that is bought by local authorities for schools and hospitals - that's where the problem really lies," he added.