FROZEN MEALS could soon be included under the Food for Life Catering Mark scheme.
An initial consultation, which ended in February 2013, highlighted that a limited number of settings could benefit from achieving the Catering Mark for frozen meals where there are no proper facilities to prepare meals on site. The Soil Association, which runs the scheme, said it believes in encouraging the best possible food for those who need it most. It is therefore proposing to adapt the standards to permit frozen meals in hospitals and community meals settings only where no proper on site kitchens are available.
A month-long consultation on the changes started this week.
Peter Melchett, Soil Association policy director, said they will always insist on meals being freshly prepared on site if suitable facilities are available. However, the changes are designed to give “the best possible support” to those hospital and community meals catering teams which do not have access to proper kitchens.
“It is a travesty that many hospital meals cannot be freshly prepared on site, but where they can’t, we want to respond to the many caterers who are enthusiastic about the Catering Mark and show real dedication in preparing healthy, environmentally friendly, high animal welfare meals, with full traceability throughout the food chain," he explained.
Over 750,000 Catering Mark standard meals are currently served each day, in schools, hospitals, children’s nurseries, universities and workplaces. It is the fastest growing foodservice best-practice scheme. A fifth of England’s schools are part of the scheme, which champions a whole-school approach to healthy eating and sustainable procurement.
The recent “Organic Market Report”, published by the Soil Association, showed that the popularity of Catering Mark meals had helped sales of organic food rise 1.6% in the catering and restaurant sector.