Bio-Meals / Austria

More organic food for canteens

The canteen of the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration was the first facility for community catering in Vienna to receive the seal "Naturally good food".
imago images / Norbert Schmidt
The canteen of the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration was the first facility for community catering in Vienna to receive the seal "Naturally good food".

In the future, canteen kitchens in administration, care or educational institutions as well as catering establishments will have to pay attention to animal welfare, quality, regionality and waste avoidance. This requires an action plan for public procurement by the Austrian government.

By 2023, a quarter of all food must be "organic", is one of the targets set by the Austrian government coalition of the ÖVP and the Greens for large public kitchens. The "action plan" provides that when purchasing food and catering services in administration, care or educational institutions, the focus should be on animal welfare, quality, regionality, health and waste avoidance. Every day, the offer should include a climate plate that is vegetarian or vegan, seasonal, regional and contains at least one organically grown main ingredient. In addition, cutlery, crockery, tablecloths and other equipment materials should be reusable, i.e. no PVC.

The action plan also includes the use of 100% green electricity for ministries and subordinate departments. The public sector must set an example for climate neutrality, the justification says. According to the plan, from 2022, other public authorities will also have to purchase 25 percent and 100 percent electricity from renewable energies by 2030. In addition, the public sector should give preference to electric vehicles, and from 2026, electric buses as well.

Seal for natural food in Vienna

By December 2019, the City of Vienna will have certified over 20 catering businesses with the "Naturally good food" seal of quality introduced one year earlier. Depending on how well the criteria of the seal of approval are implemented, businesses will receive the seal of the City of Vienna in gold, silver or bronze. Last December, the cafeteria of the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration (WU Mensa), which is operated by Eurest, was the first community restaurant to receive the seal in bronze. Since November 2019, a newly installed organic serving station there has been offering only vegetarian or vegan food from organic production.

"Eat well naturally"
The most important criteria:
  • Organic total: bronze: at least 30 %, silver: over 75 %, gold: over 90
  • Eggs: min. free-range, gold: 100 % organic
  • Dairy products: at least 4 organic products, gold: 100 % organic
  • meat and fish: at least 1 organic variety, gold: 100 % organic, obligatory indication of origin
  • Palm oil: for margarine, chocolate and chocolate spreads from RSPO certified, sustainable, organic sources
  • Vegetarian offer on the menu
All excellent "Naturally good food" establishments can be found online.
Organic quality, regionality, seasonality and a respectful treatment of animals in food production usually bring added value for the environment, climate and health, emphasised Karin Büchl-Krammerstätter, head of the organisation "City of Vienna - Environmental Protection" on the occasion of the certification: "Behind conventional cheap food, on the other hand, stand hidden additional costs through environmental and climate impacts, but also social and health-related follow-up costs." The WU Mensa was audited by BIOS Austria. Operator Eurest feels that the certificate confirms its efforts to offer more environmentally friendly food and would like to have more companies certified with the "Naturally Good Food" seal in the future.

Quality pays off even in large quantities

According to Büchl-Krammerstätter, current data from Statistik Austria show that quality is gradually taking precedence over quantity for consumers and that meat consumption in Austria is declining. Whereas in 2013 an average of 65.3 kilograms of meat per capita were consumed, this figure has now risen to 64.4 kilograms. Also in the case of "Naturally good food", on the one hand the share of organic quality and on the other hand the range of vegetarian alternatives is decisive for the degree of distinction. Thomas Hruschka, Head of Sustainable Development & Sustainability Coordinator City of Vienna: "With 'Naturally Good Food' we want to encourage businesses to rethink and give impulses to design an ecologically sustainable and healthy menu.
OekoBusiness Vienna
"OekoBusiness Wien – Wirtschaften fürs große Ganze" is an environmental service package offered by the City of Vienna for Viennese companies. Launched in 1998 by "City of Vienna – Environmental Protection", OekoBusiness Wien supports companies in implementing environmentally relevant measures and helps to reduce operating costs. Together with experienced environmental consultants, potential savings are identified in order to reduce energy requirements, waste and resource use step by step. OekoBusiness Vienna makes a significant contribution to the Vienna Climate Protection Programme (KliP) and the Municipal Energy Efficiency Programme (SEP), where it is anchored as an interface to the companies. The programme is supported by the Eco-Electricity Fund for Vienna, the Vienna Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Ministry of Life's Domestic Environmental Promotion. The programme is also supported by the Vienna Chamber of Labour (AK Wien), the Austrian Federation of Trade Unions (ÖGB), the Vienna Business Agency, the Municipal Department for Technical Trade Affairs (MA 36) and the Municipal District Offices (Trade Authority).