Skip to main content

Government Buying Standards

On 15 July 2021, the nutrition standards within Government Buying Standards for Food (GBSF) guidelines were updated to incorporate other standards and new targets. The Government has also taken a closer look at how to tackle obesity and health issues which now make up the new GBSF and form part of the wider Hospital Food Standards.

To enable customers to better understand the nutritional elements of the food they purchase from NHS Supply Chain, compared to the latest GBSF, we have launched a GBSF Nutritional Scorecard service.

The new GBSF

GBSF guidelines have been updated in line with the latest scientific findings, and ahead of wider updates to the Hospital Food Standards recommendations in 2022.
Standards previously introduced by other government programs such as the Sugar Reduction Programme and some of the Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN) have been consolidated with GBSF. The nutritional areas now covered by this are:

• Reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages
• Reducing salt intake
• Introducing lower-calorie confectionaries
• Reducing portion sizes of savoury snacks
• Achieving calorie targets for foods previously covered in the Sugar Reduction Programme
• Reducing saturated fat levels in cheese, ready meals, milk, oils, spreads, and sandwiches
• Introducing healthier breakfast cereal options
• Increasing fibre content of breads and sandwiches.

The above reflects an increased focus from the Government on combating obesity and the health issues associated with this condition.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) have also identified which standards are mandatory and which are best practices.

The standards explained

See our Useful Links section for the full breakdown of the standards.

GBSF Nutritional Scorecard service

Our new GBSF Nutritional Scorecard service will launch to customers on 1 April 2022. This service will enable customers to better understand the nutritional elements of the food purchased from NHS Supply Chain, compared to the latest Government Buying Standards for Food (GBSF), by receiving a bespoke report made by the team.

The tailored report offers invaluable insights into your trust’s GBSF compliance, and provides a rating for every product, indicating whether the regulations it has been measured against are best practice, or mandatory.

The dietetics team will also remain on hand to answer any questions you may have after receiving your GBSF Nutritional Scorecard and to provide further support to improve the health and wellbeing of staff and visitors at your NHS trust.

Speak to your local Food Account Manager to request a GBSF Nutritional Scorecard.

See our Downloads ▼ section for the full framework document.

We are committed to supporting GBSF and have been working with our suppliers to provide you with the information you need to buy sustainable food. We also want to raise awareness of GBSF to help improve standards of food across the NHS, and as such have included the standards in our NHS Operating framework (see clause 3.15).

Benefits for NHS trusts

Requesting a GBSF Nutritional Scorecard connects NHS trusts that purchase NHS Supply Chain: Food products with the expertise of the dietetics team. The benefits include:

• Gaining a better understanding of your food supply chain.
• Viewing product data from all NHS Supply Chain suppliers in one place.
• The transparency and detail of the Scorecard make it easy for you to evidence areas where you are highly compliant.
• Leading by example and demonstrating compliance to your hospital board and Integrated Care System (ICS).
• Receiving personalised information related to your purchasing data.
• Finding out which product switches could increase your compliance.
• An increased understanding of the nutritional value of the products you’re purchasing can increase the focus on health and wellbeing at your NHS trust.

Contact us

For further information please contact your NHS Supply Chain: Food Account Manager or email

Downloads ▼

  • The Operating Framework for the NHS

    The Operating Framework for the NHS in England 2011/12.