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Fury of British farmers as public sector caterers vow to cut meat served in schools, hospitals, universities and care homes by 20 per cent to help environment

April 18, 2020

By Paul Homewood


h/t Patsy Lacey


British farmers have reacted with fury at public sector caterers’ move to cut meat servings in schools, universities, care homes, and hospitals by 20 per cent. 

Public sector caterers have vowed to hit the target as part of a pledge which also aims to boost public health by lowering consumption of animal products.

The meals being reduced in canteens and kitchens across the UK are eaten by a quarter of the population.

Together with animal charity Humane Society International/UK, it claims a 20 per cent cut could save over 200,000 metric tonnes of carbon emissions.

It follows recommendations by the UK’s official climate change advisers, as well as warnings from the World Health Organisation of the risks of cancer from high red meat consumption.

However, British farmers have slammed the proposals as many fear the move is likely to hurt demand for red meat and their profits.

Richard Findlay, Livestock Board Chairman of the National Farmers Union, called the #20percentless initiative ‘wholly inaccurate’ and ‘frankly ridiculous’ because the UK industry has a smaller carbon footprint than those of other countries.

He claimed that people would simply import more produce from other countries, while meat consumption is vital for a ‘healthy, balanced diet’.

Speaking to MailOnline, Mr Findlay said: ‘We have got to look at the bigger picture here. The UK red meat industry is one of the most sustainable in the world.

‘Our carbon footprint from red meat is two and a half times lower than that of other countries. We have a temperate climate ideal for growing grass… That’s how our carbon footprint is up to 60 per cent lower than elsewhere.

‘If public sector caterers wanted to do their bit for the environment, instead of cutting the amount of red meat served, they should be supporting British farms.

‘What people don’t understand is that switching to non-red meat products – like avocados for instance – is likely to have a greater environmental impact.

‘They will be importing products from countries which have a greater carbon footprint. Think of South America, where they cut down rainforests for food… I think that has the potential to cause huge future problems.

‘If public sector caterers vow to reduce the amount of red meat served, that will affect demand for red meat and ultimately our profitability.

‘We have a robust plan which has been scrutinised by academics to go carbon neutral by 2040. Misguided projects like these to cut red meat aren’t going to solve these problems.  A lot of the thinking around this is wholly inaccurate.’

Mr Findlay added: ‘Most people who are up to speed with this know that some red meat is good for maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. They don’t over-eat.

‘But there are many people who do not eat red meat who do over-eat. To assume that cutting red meat provisions will solve that problem is frankly ridiculous.’

Public Sector Catering claims the move would cut the estimated 45million kg of meat served within the sector every year by nearly 10million kg.

This is equivalent to around 45,000 cows or 16million chickens, and could have the same effect as removing 400,000 cars from the road each year. 

The #20percentless meat vow was launched in trade magazine Public Sector Catering, and has already obtained the backing of several organisations.

Andy Jones, chairman of the PSC100 group of caterers and suppliers, said: ‘The carbon emissions savings and the potential benefit to people’s health can play a part in tackling climate change and shortening NHS queues.’

Stephen Forster, chairman of the Local Authority Caterers Association, said: ‘The school food industry is leading the way on meat reduction. Schools across the country have meat-free days and are increasingly introducing plant-based options.’

The Committee on Climate Change called for rapid and major shifts to farming practices, agro-forestry, and consumer behaviour to decarbonise the UK’s land sector in January this year (left, CCC chairman Lord Deben, right CCC chief executive Chris Stark)

David Foad, editor-in-chief of the publication, said: ‘It represents a bold move because it is not being mandated. It would have been much easier to sit back and wait until they were either prompted or forced into action like this by Government.’

However, the head of the National Association of Care Catering, Sue Cawthray, said older people tend to be reluctant to change.

‘I would say our biggest challenge to meeting the 20 per cent target is the mindset of many of those currently in care homes,’ she said. ‘The majority would have been brought up on a staple diet of meat and veg and will be resistant to change.’ 

Matt White, chairman of the University Caterers Organisation, said: ‘We have a very short window of opportunity to make changes in the way we all eat or we will have done irreparable damage to our planet.’

Philip Mansbridge, director of the campaign group ProVeg UK, said: ‘Never has the public sector made a commitment of this magnitude.’

MailOnline has approached Defra for comment.

The Committee on Climate Change, the UK Government’s official climate adviser, called for rapid and major shifts to farming practices, agro-forestry, and consumer behaviour to decarbonise the UK’s land sector in January this year.

Under the CCC’s recommendations, a fifth of all agricultural land needs to be used to suck carbon from the atmosphere by planting trees, restoring peatlands and soils, and growing bioenergy crops with carbon capture and storage.

They also urged a cut in consumption of carbon-intensive food like red meat and dairy by 20 per cent per person, and a 20 per cent cut in waste by 2050.

‘Delivering emissions reduction should not be at the expense of increasing food imports that risk "carbon leakage"’, the report said.

CCC chairman Lord Deben called the CCC’s report one of ‘the most important’ produced by the committee, adding: ‘These are major changes and cannot be delivered in the normal course of business’.

According to Climate Home News, Chris Stark, chief executive of the CCC, said: ‘It is time to end these adversarial discussions between climate and farmers’.

Implementation measures could cost Britain an extra £1.4billion per year but could yield profits of £80billion, according to the CCC.

The committee suggested creating a climate levy on fossil-fuel emitting industries.


The arguments for and against reducing meat intake have been well rehearsed. But the real issue here is personal choice. If customers of these canteens want meat, why should it be denied to them?

The worrying thing about this latest news is the shadowy role of the PSC100 group of caterers and suppliers, who have been organising this move behind the scenes, under the banner of the Public Sector Catering magazine.

This is what their website says:

Launched in 2011, the PSC100 group comprises caterers, dietitians, politicians, healthy eating campaigners and suppliers who operate in the public sector and use their collective ‘clout’ to drive government legislation and action towards helping people adopt healthier lifestyles through catering and education initiatives.

It is chaired by Andy Jones, former chair of the Hospital Caterers Association (HCA), and as well as commissioning research into health and nutrition, it holds seminars offering updates on healthy eating, obesity and malnutrition and supports all initiatives with similar aims.

The group focus is currently on how caterers in the workplace, universities, schools, hospitals, care homes and prisons can help cut the amount of sugar in our diets.

The group is an evolution of Public Sector Catering magazine’s annual celebration of the work and achievements of the best operators in the business – the Public Sector Catering Most Influential Top 20. They are chosen by an independent panel each year and invited to discuss the key issues facing the industry. Frustrated that such useful debates and networking were available only once a year, the decision was made to work collaboratively on a more regular basis.

Key supporters include LACA (the school food people), the HCA, the National Association of Care Catering, The University Caterers Organisation, SugarSmart, the British Dietetic Association, the All-Party Parliamentary Groups on both School Food and Hunger plus a number of key commercial catering suppliers and manufacturers.

I find it alarming that a small group of self appointed conspirators can set public policy in this way, regardless of what the public may or may not want.

As for those inconvenient older people in care homes, who may be reluctant to change, let them eat mung beans. They might not like them. but at least it will help save the planet!

  1. April 18, 2020 11:10 am

    Nanny state-ism strikes again.

  2. April 18, 2020 11:10 am

    I am rendered wordless (almost!) by this. Yet more evidence of the insidious attempt at universal takeover by the trendy left, wallowing in ignorance and misinformation. Is there no longer any space for common sense ?

    • April 18, 2020 12:18 pm

      ” Is there no longer any space for common sense ?”

      Absolutely not. Surprised you asked.

      • Curious George permalink
        April 18, 2020 5:46 pm

        So much ado for mere 20%. Wait for the next 50% cut.

    • El Toro permalink
      April 18, 2020 5:23 pm

      Plenty of space for Common Purpose, though. Acting beyond one’s authority, crazy decisions in favour of vested interests: classic signs!

      • Chaswarnertoo permalink
        April 19, 2020 8:39 am

        Time Common Purpose was proscribed.

  3. jack broughton permalink
    April 18, 2020 11:19 am

    The modern equivalent of “reds under the beds” is “climate nutters controlling all decision-making.”

    The anti-meat lobby group is similar to the long-established anti-alcohol lobby, convinced that their cause is right and determined to achieve their ends irrespective of what people actually want: they both use the well worn “scientists say” mantra too.

    • Mad Mike permalink
      April 18, 2020 3:55 pm

      Careful Jack. Don’t forget that turning stuff in to alcohol produces CO2. Its not on the agenda…………………….yet.

  4. Alan permalink
    April 18, 2020 11:23 am

    I am so glad I no longer live in UK, it is luke reading about a fictional futuristic world where the inmates run the asylum

    • Geoff Cruickshank permalink
      April 18, 2020 12:40 pm

      I absolutely agree. But not only luke, Matthew, Mark and John as well, and none of them finding any sense at all.

  5. edwardrodolph1891 permalink
    April 18, 2020 11:27 am

    200,000 metric tonnes of CO2 eh? Does anyone know HOW to weigh a ‘gas’, and/or just how bulky/weighty a sackful is? This figure is ‘gweeny’ insanity. However, there IS an upside, production of meat won’t do more than slow slightly, so farmers/wholesalers and butchers will probably reduce their prices to the benefit of all the rest of us. Incidentally CO2 is a VITAL plant food, and its reduction will reduce crop yields, possibly!

    • April 18, 2020 12:34 pm

      It is now being said that one of the major reasons for the extinction of the megafauna during the late Pleistocene was due to the very low CO2. The plant life was very stunted and depauperate. Many species reproduced by clonal means instead of producing seeds. This led to a drop in the herbivore population and in turn the predator populations.

      I first found this in a lecture sponsored by the Royal Tryrrell Museum of Paleontology in Alberta, Canada. The speaker was from the La Brea Tar Pits Museum in Los Angeles. He cited papers by Ward, et al. I looked them up to verify the scientific studies. It was quite fascinating. Actually we are just beginning to recover from the low CO2 at the end of the Pleistocene glaciations.

      We DO NOT want to halt the replenishing of CO2 in our system. Instead, we should halt the replenishing of agenda-driven leftists.

    • Broadlands permalink
      April 18, 2020 1:35 pm

      According to the CDIAC, one part per million of carbon weighs 2.13 gigatons and when oxygen is added it weighs 7.8 gigatons. That’s a lot of a trace gas to capture and store somewhere. It’s like putting 44 tons of CO2 into a 12 ton sack.

      Using agricultural lands to make ethanol for a biofuel that is 90% fossil fuel is senseless as it will be immediately put into a vehicle and returned to the atmosphere.

      • April 18, 2020 2:23 pm

        There’s good CO2 and bad CO2 in climate alarm mythology. Nothing to do with reality, but that doesn’t matter any more 🙄

  6. NeilC permalink
    April 18, 2020 11:29 am

    Do these people realise humans have evolved to be omnivores. Humans cannot get some vital genes if the are vegetarian or vegan. Do the want to cause more ill health?

    Look under Chinese Medicine (and Food)

    • Martin permalink
      April 18, 2020 11:48 am

      Using less meat reduces costs. It is a money saving scam, shrouded by good intentions. Ha!

    • April 18, 2020 12:35 pm

      Ah, your David Attenborough would.

  7. MrGrimNasty permalink
    April 18, 2020 11:31 am

    It would be just as effective for the environment (if you want to believe the anti-meat argument) to only use British meat (or imports from countries with similarly low impact meat production) rather than from countries like Brazil where it is supposedly high impact.

    See Buy British in this serving of BBC tripe.

    If you risk putting British producers out of business or making their product more expensive, you will just increase reliance on supposedly ‘bad’ imports.

  8. Keitho permalink
    April 18, 2020 11:36 am

    You are British and you will do as you’re told. Stay indoors, stop eating meat, keep your heating off and don’t drive anywhere. Look how obedient you are being now.

    • Roger Cole permalink
      April 18, 2020 4:56 pm

      I’ve thought for years the British are too placid, probably from the many years of socialism post 1947 and sure enough, full advantage is being taken of them. They get excited about their football but not about things in real life, so I guess bread and circuses work as intended. Better get used to walking and cycling I suppose. You get what you vote and agitate for.

    • Dave Ward permalink
      April 18, 2020 5:33 pm

      “Look how obedient you are being now”

      And that is the single most depressing aspect of this crisis: Surveys claim the majority of the British public support a lockdown “for as long as necessary” so the rest of us might just as well give up any hope…

  9. Bertie permalink
    April 18, 2020 11:38 am

    When is this madness going to end? The compliance of the British people is quite extraordinary and not something associated with previous generations, who would have been both sceptical of all this AGW nonsense and taken a more robust attitude to a virus. I guess it’s the ‘snowflake’ generation!

    • David Calder permalink
      April 18, 2020 1:35 pm

      Youth has been totally brainwashed by green agenda driven, lefty evil turds at school and uni I’m afraid. I have absolute proof based on observing young (STEM) graduates reaction to the any challenge to the doctrine. I actually think what’s been done is evil and it’s certainly dangerous. This generation will DEMAND its own destruction.

  10. Ken Pollock permalink
    April 18, 2020 11:39 am

    Can we please note that if Carbon Capture and Storage is made to work, it will transform the source of energy? Hydrogen is touted as the future, but often is thought to come from methane (CH4) and so generates carbon dioxide. If done in a single location, CCS makes it feasible – don’t ask about the energy balance, though.
    More significantly, and rarely mentioned, COAL suddenly becomes clean again for electricity generation. We have been able to clean the flues for decades. Now we could capture the CO2 as well, and that fantastic source of energy is suddenly kosher!
    Bear in mind Chris Stark and the CCC have said CCS is essential to reach zero carbon by 2050, should you wish to.
    More clear thinking please…

    • April 18, 2020 2:31 pm

      Storing many gigatons of CO2 – what’s the leak-proof plan?

      • Ken Pollock permalink
        April 18, 2020 2:50 pm

        Good question! It is said we pump it back into the North Sea oil and gas wells where it originated, but making sure it stays there is another matter. One step at a time, let’s say.
        To be honest CCS is the Holy Grail, but HMG UK has twice cancelled contracts to develop it, so maybe even they don’t believe it is possible

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        April 18, 2020 3:44 pm

        Reminds me of those pits in certain areas that are mysteriously full of dead animals but the environment looks healthy – CO2 is heavier than air, so in some cases where it is naturally released from the ground, a sunken area of land becomes a suffocation chamber to the unwitting that venture in.

        Imagine if there is an earthquake and an enormous bubble of CO2 escapes from an old oil field, the next ship will ram up on a beach somewhere with all the people on board mysteriously dead, or an unfortunate breeze might take out the population of some coastal towns.

        Couldn’t happen? Lake Nyos disaster (and others).

  11. April 18, 2020 12:21 pm

    This experiment has already been tried in Sweden. The results in schools are clear – tired and less learning students. Regarding hospitals, there has not been any studies, but longer recovering time would be expected for the patients. The simplest way to better health, is to reduce the amount of carbohydrates – cereals (incl. rice and maize), but also root vegetables.

    … carbon emissions
    – Literally, that includes anything containing carbon … (CO2, CO, soot, CxHx[OH] etc.)

  12. April 18, 2020 12:26 pm

    This meat policy is not nearly so intelligent or soundly based as was “Let them eat cake”!

  13. Jonathan Tucker permalink
    April 18, 2020 12:34 pm

    These people need to get themselves up to date and read Why We Eat ( too much) by bariatric surgeon Dr Andrew Jenkinson who exposes the great dietary lie we have all been exposed to. He loves grass fed meat.

  14. Broadlands permalink
    April 18, 2020 1:46 pm

    Perhaps I’ve missed something, but if I don’t eat meat I will have to eat vegetation and that’s what captures CO2. And if I eat meat it came from animals that also ate vegetation. Plant photosynthesis creates organic matter from CO2 and animal respiration uses it for food energy recycling the CO2. Where is the net gain or loss to save the planet?

  15. H Davis permalink
    April 18, 2020 4:28 pm

    So let me get this straight; if we feed the livestock vegetation it produces undesirable CO2 but if we feed people the vegetation it doesn’t?

  16. BLACK PEARL permalink
    April 18, 2020 5:21 pm

    We need more meat not less.
    Red meat is a source of Zinc which is essential in the immune system.
    ( not everyone like oysters)
    Most people are deficient and need to eat more not less, especially with all these virus’s around. I’m doing my bit 🙂

  17. Mike Cross permalink
    April 18, 2020 6:01 pm

    This is nothing to do with green credentials. This is all to do with spending less on the materials going into food for the vulnerable so that you will make more profit for your company and ultimately increase what they are willing to pay the Directors for their excellent work. Self interest and money drives everything… especially the green movement.

  18. saparonia permalink
    April 18, 2020 10:52 pm

    So what are the kids in school and the elderly and sick people in care homes going to be fed? Some of the sweetcorn that nobody wants to eat? An alternative might be to insist on an hour of only breathing in and no farting..

  19. layor nala permalink
    April 19, 2020 12:35 am

    The whole thing is crazy. But apart from that it does not help when agricultural industry leaders pluck figures out of the air to try and paint the UK as being ahead of the field. Hvae a look at

    • Mike Cross permalink
      April 19, 2020 12:43 pm

      Obviously there is an argument not to ship stuff right across the world when very similar produce is available locally. I think it has to be a matter of choice whether we import. Normally the price will dictate whether the local item is bought, or the import. And price, to my mind, is the best way to regulate it.

      Where a local industry needs help to establish itself, this can be done by reasonable subsidy or tariffs on imports, and both can be acceptable approaches.

      Unfortunately, government thinking is often not sufficiently integrated, perhaps because many different people make up government, each with their own financial interests.

      To take carbon into account (I believe) has always been nonsense, though to live economically is ‘obviously’ a sensible approach. To conserve is good, but it always has to be ‘light touch’ without groups enforcing their will on others, though all government implies forcing a will onto others. In the UK we normally try to govern by consensus, so people do not feel imposed upon.

  20. April 19, 2020 12:44 am

    “It follows recommendations by the UK’s official climate change advisers, as well as warnings from the World Health Organisation of the risks of cancer from high red meat consumption”

    The WHO is now an agency of the UN taking orders from Guterres the climate ambition guy. It is no longer a credible source on matters having to do with health.

  21. April 19, 2020 9:05 am

    I suspect the caterers will replace the meat with starch and sugar, both cheap.
    That will grow the Obesity and Diabetes epidemic.

  22. April 20, 2020 12:24 pm

    Be nice. Your adoring nanny knows what is best for you–and how to make tons of money off your naiveté. So stop complaining, hand over your wallet and accept that your nanny knows best.

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