MoD to take healthy look at troop rations
Wednesday 14th April 2004 16:21
Caterers for the Ministry of Defence are to examine all aspects of its catering operation in a bid to tackle obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
Brigadier Jeff Little, director of the Defence Catering Group (DCG), told delegates at CatCon 2004, a defence catering conference, that the MoD had joined forces with two research organisations in a bid to develop healthier menus within 12 months.
Little announced the project at the DCG-organised conference in Birmingham last week, saying it would focus on all aspects of defence catering, nutrition and future ration requirements.
The project's aim was to develop menus that optimise physical and mental performance and tackle the growing problem in society of obesity and its impact on the health of servicemen and women.
A spokesman said that the concept behind the research was to treat soldiers more like athletes, and would lead to a more scientific approach to feeding Armed Forces personnel. He added that this would also take into account the fact that frontline troops often had to carry their food.
Little said that the UK had traditionally fed its Forces personnel well, but it had a duty to provide meals that combined taste with a healthy diet.
He said: "The partnership will look at all aspects of defence feeding, from ration packs to field kitchens, and we hope to start introducing changes within 12 months. It's an incredible challenge, because the environments where we operate present some of the greatest challenges in the catering spectrum - they are not usually conducive to haute cuisine."
The MoD, which recruits 17,000 people every year, has developed menus suitable for people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. It now offered more than 20 different types of ration packs, ranging from halal to vegetarian meals.
Little added that the Armed Forces faced a tough task in providing catering to a generation brought up on cheeseburgers and TV dinners.
"No one expects immediate results," he said. "However, if the MoD can deliver improvements, I believe other parts of society can learn and benefit from our experience."
Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 15 - 21 April 2004