PIONEERING new rules on sourcing food for council contracts in Brighton and Hove are being introduced.

The city council has become the first in the country to introduce the tougher rules on food buying standards for contracts across the city.

The council has chosen to introduce minimum standards for catering contracts over £75,000, which will affect six big contracts across the council, as well as a set of standards for smaller contracts.

The standards set are the equivalent to the Soil Association’s Bronze Food for Life Catering Mark, which forbids the use of any additives, trans fats or genetically modified ingredients and encourages caterers to use local produce.

Ollie Sykes, Green Party Councillor, said: “I’m incredibly pleased that this means services within the council who buy large amounts of food will now be doing so from local suppliers, supporting the local economy and providing food which is much healthier and free from additives which are so harmful to health.”

Caterers securing contracts must be able to demonstrate they support the principal of the minimum standards.

It was agreed at a policy and resources committee meeting that in contracts worth over £75,000 caterers will need to achieve the minimum buying standard during the first year of the contract.

Vic Borill, director of the Brighton and Hove Food Partnership, a non-profit organisation that helps people to learn to cook, eat a healthy diet, grow their own food and reduce waste, supports the new rules.

He said: “Food purchasing standards don’t sound very tasty but they are.

“The Brighton and Hove Food Partnership is delighted the council has taken the decision which will improve thousands of meals served each year.”

Catering companies will also have to use eggs from free range hens and at least 75% of their dishes must be freshly prepared from unprocessed ingredients on site or at a local hub.

Mr Borill added: “We have been campaigning for all public services to adopt food buying policies and hope this announcement will encourage others to do the same.”

These new rules will support work started in the Spade to Spoon: Digging Deeper: a food action and strategy plan to implement a more healthy, sustainable food system throughout the city.