Best Start Foods card: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

Please can you refer me to the information that was used to form the policy for the Best Start Foods card - how the list of eligible food has been determined?


In answer to your question on the determination of the eligible food list for Best Start Foods: Best Start Foods was launched in Scotland on 12th August 2019 and replaced the UK’s Healthy Start Foods scheme which has a limited available food list for its voucher recipients. Please see the link below to the website.

In order to explore the possibility of expanding the food list for the Best Start Foods scheme, a Short Term Working Group was formed of a range of key experts, (membership details in Annex below ) where potential changes to prescribed foods for the new Best Start Foods payment card were explored.

The group discussed extending the list of prescribed foods beyond the UK Scheme’s list which was restricted to current fresh/frozen fruit and vegetables. The pros and cons of widening to a range of other foods was discussed at length with the following points made:

  • Members highlighted the importance of retaining the policy intent which is that Best Start Foods will provide low income pregnant women and families with children under the age of three on certain benefits with financial support to purchase healthy foods.
  • The group recommended that the scheme could maintain its nutritional focus, while providing more balance and choice, through the addition of eggs and dried pulses to the prescribed list.
  • The Group were in agreement that it was important to be proactive and continue to encourage recipients to eat fruit and veg.

Scottish Government officials also liaised with other government departments and agencies including Food Standards Scotland to ensure that any changes proposed were consistent with other initiatives. Based on the findings from discussions and the public consultation which is referenced below, we expanded the range of items available to purchase using the Best Start foods card as follows:

  • Cow’s milk
  • First Infant formula milk (suitable from birth)
  • Fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables.
  • Tinned fruit and vegetables (new)
  • Fresh or tinned pulses (new)
  • Eggs (new)

Below is the rationale for the expanded food list which was developed through the working group:

Tinned fruit and vegetables – some people on a low income will have limited freezer space and may not be able to buy frozen products. In some areas access to fresh fruit and vegetables is limited due to the shops nearby, therefore adding in tinned fruit and vegetables expands choice. Food Standards Scotland advice confirmed that tinned fruit and vegetables are a very good source of vitamins and minerals, and the dietary fibre content is the same as fresh.

Fresh or tinned pulses – these items are widely considered to be a healthy and nutritious form of protein (and can also count as one of your 5-a-day) and can contribute to healthy nutritious meals e.g. soups.

Eggs – they are again widely considered to be a reasonably inexpensive, versatile and nutritious form of protein. They can be easily stored and used for a variety of meals.

I enclose a link to the Policy note, which provides background information to the Welfare Foods (Best Start Foods) (Scotland) Regulations 2019:

I also enclose a link to public consultation on the proposals for Best Start Foods:

This information is publicly available and explains what information was used to form the Best Start Foods policy. The link provides the original consultation paper, the publicly available responses to the consultation and the consultation report completed by independent analysts.

Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website(s) listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

Short Term Working Group Membership







Marion Davies

Head of Policy & Strategy

One Parent Families Scotland

Nicola Dickie

Policy Manager

Convention of Scottish Local Authorities

Rosie Dodds


Healthy Start Alliance

John Downie

Director of Public Affairs

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations




Ewan Gurr

Scotland Network Manager

Trussell Trust

Veronica King

Healthy Start Lead and Health & Wellbeing Specialist, CYP Team

NHS Dumfries & Galloway

Gillian Kynoch

Head in Scotland


Aileen McCraw

Health Improvement Lead

NHS Borders


Family Nurse Partnership

NHS Tayside

Jo Ozga

Policy Worker

Scottish Women’s Aid


Health Visitor

NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde

Sheila Rattray

Team Leader, Community Midwives

NHS Grampian

Mark Willis

Welfare Rights Adviser

Child Poverty Action Group

Claire Stevens

Chief Officer

Voluntary Health Scotland

Scottish Government



Scottish Government Official

Policy Team Leader

Scottish Government

Scottish Government Official

Policy Manager

Scottish Government

Scottish Government Official

Maternity Benefit Policy Manager

Scottish Government (Observer)

Scottish Government Official

Policy Officer

Scottish Government (Secretariat)

Linda Wolfson

Professional Adviser on Secondment

Scottish Government / NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde

About FOI

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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