Scottish schools failing to source local chicken, find Greens
Published:  17 July, 2013

The majority of Scottish schools are serving imported chicken, with many using product from Thailand, according to new research released by the Scottish Greens.

The Greens used the Freedom of Information (FoI) requests to gather information on the sourcing of chicken for school meals from local authorities covering Scotland’s cities. They found that only Stirling, which is a member of the Soil Association’s Food for Life local sourcing programme, served Scottish chicken, with 90% sourced from Scotland and the remaining 10% sourced from the rest of the UK.

Other Scottish cities served up some UK chicken in school meals, but only Dundee, Perth and Aberdeen were able to put a figure on exactly how much chicken was sourced from UK suppliers. Dundee and Perth, which share a supplier, are serving up 14% UK chicken, while Aberdeen is serving up 30% UK chicken. None of the UK chicken sourced is free-range.

The rest of the chicken served in Scottish schools is sourced from the Netherlands and Thailand, the Greens revealed.

Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian and food spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said: “There shouldn’t be so much of a divide between the pioneer councils and the food laggards when it comes to something as important as our children’s meals. I have longstanding concerns about imported meat and there has to be a better way than flying chicken nuggets from Thailand.”

Johnstone said that in the wake of the horsemeat scandal, more councils in Scotland should follow Stirling’s lead and adopt local sourcing schemes “with some urgency”.

He added that the forthcoming Procurement Reform Bill could be used to set new standards to achieve that aim, and that Green MSPs would be looking to see how it could be used to improve local sourcing.

“Councils are under pressure to award contracts on cost rather than make choices that would have positive impacts for the local economy and animal welfare,” he said. “The Scottish Government’s food policy is too focused on exporting whisky and salmon and needs to do more to get local food used in meals bought with public money.”