Some thoughts on Bristol food policy

I don’t really have time to blog at the moment, what with it being polling day tomorrow. So see below for a copy of a piece I wrote for the Bristol Post last week. I raised all four issues with the Mayor when I met with him recently, and have followed up by email.

I have also added the stats about food standards (with apologies for the formatting, which looks OK in draft but publishes wrong – aaargghhh!!!! I will fix eventually, when I’m not in a rush). I think the stats for Bristol are quite shocking.

“It’s a great shame that when David Cameron was in town last Thursday during the Bristol Food Connections festival he chose to eat at Nando’s. If only we’d known we had a hungry Prime Minister on our hands, we could have shown him much more of what Bristol has to offer.

Last week I chaired a meeting of the All-Party Agroecology Group in Parliament, looking at how national and local government policies can support local food. Joy Carey from Bristol’s Food Policy Council gave a great presentation and the speaker from Sustainable Food Cities also gave us a glowing reference. The community growing project at Feed Bristol; the Get Growing Trail; the Gleaning Network; the pop-up food market under the M32; the ‘guerilla gardening’ of Incredible Edible Bristol; and of course Food Connections: there is so much good going on in Bristol at the moment.

 But if we are to build upon this good work, there are a few issues we need to address.

First of all, we simply cannot allow them to put a Metrobus junction on the Feed Bristol site. Not only would this bring little benefit in transport terms, if any, it would also mean tarmac going down on Grade 1 Agriculture Land. I would urge everyone who cares about protecting our natural environment – and who wants transport infrastructure money to be spent wisely and well – to submit a planning objection before June 2nd. More details can be found on the Blue Finger Alliance website.

Secondly, I was hugely disappointed to learn that Bristol had recently turned down the opportunity to be one of ten UK food waste cities. Council officers told me they want to concentrate on recycling waste, rather than on preventing it. Yes, Bristol has a pretty good record on food waste, but we shouldn’t be aiming to be ‘pretty good’. We should be aiming to be the best – especially if we’re EU Green Capital – and that should mean prioritising the most environmental solutions for managing waste.

Thirdly, Bristol has to improve its record on food standards. We are currently ranked an appalling 379th out of 395 town/ cities for interventions (ie “activities designed to monitor, support and increase food law compliance within a food establishment”). Manchester achieves 85% interventions. Liverpool nearly 82%. Bristol? A shockingly low 17.5%. We all remember the horsemeat scandal of last year and last week I met with Which? to discuss their recent report on food fraud. People have the right to know what is in the food they’re buying, no matter whether it’s locally-sourced grass-fed meat from the organic butcher or it’s a late night kebab from a takeaway.

Finally, we know that all the good work on local food, healthy living and sustainability isn’t reaching everyone. Too many people in the city don’t have access to healthy, fresh food, don’t have the budget to buy it, or don’t have the facilities to cook it. Or they might simply not be interested, yet. We have to make sure these great new initiatives aren’t just for the foodies and the environmentalists, but for everyone. I’ve spoken to the Mayor about this and I know that he agrees with me, so let’s all work together to make it happen.”


Council Total % of food standards   Interventions achieved (exc unrated) Total % of food standards   Interventions achieved – Premises Rated A Total % of food standards   Interventions achieved – Premises Rated B Total % of food standards   Interventions achieved – Premises Rated C Total number of samples for standards work
Bristol 17.59 46 16.03 23 133
Birmingham 74.57 58.82 71.22 77.39 0
Liverpool 81.83 100 82.21 73.91 70
Manchester 85.22 100 96.55 82.9 74
Newcastle Upon Tyne 40.96 No premises given this risk rating 25.4 54.48 76
Nottingham City 68.15 64.29 74.66 67.39 80
Sheffield 26.99 93.64 36.65 4.5 257
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