More than half of London boroughs have proven Iceland boss wrong by insisting on Food for Life Catering Mark for school meals

18 February 2013

Malcolm Walker, boss of Iceland, is right to suggest that catering is often more vulnerable than the supermarkets to price pressure. And when it comes to food in our schools and hospitals, we cannot check the label in person. But more than 57 local authorities, including over half of London’s boroughs, are already standing up for pupils and patients by insisting on Food for Life Catering Mark standards for quality and traceability in their school meal services. And many leading local authorities are making the standards an integral part of how they do business [1].

In 2009 the Soil Association took up the challenge of transforming catering across the UK by putting quality and transparency back on the menu. The Soil Association’s Food for Life Catering Mark is the UK’s only independent accreditation scheme setting standards of traceability, quality and provenance for public sector meals and inspecting caterers to ensure that standards are met. The scheme accredits over 650,000 meals a day, including food in 20% of schools in England and the UK’s largest chain of nurseries. The Catering Mark can also be found guaranteeing standards in workplaces, universities, visitor attractions and restaurants.

Soil Association Policy Director, Peter Melchett said:
“All meat on Food for Life Catering Mark menus must be farm assured, meaning it is traceable back to the farm. In addition, 75% of food served must be freshly prepared, reducing reliance on processed food. No scheme of food assurance can ever be 100% fool-proof, or immune to corruption by deliberate criminal activity. However, every Catering Mark-accredited caterer must have menus independently verified, submit to an annual inspection and prove that the food they serve is traceable.”

The Catering Mark tackles both the flaws at the heart of the horsemeat scandal: too little traceability and too much processed food. At bronze (the entry level) all meat served fulfils the requirements for UK Assured Food Standards (AFS) or equivalent higher schemes. The scheme provides a clear framework of standards to improve food on the plate, rewarding caterers for making healthy eating easier and including local, seasonal, organic and high animal welfare products.

The Soil Association’s Food for Life Catering Mark shortens supply chains and removes reliance on untraceable processed foods in more than 120 million meals served each year. It has seen many schools and hospitals put local food on the menu for the first time. In many cases our standards can be met within existing budgets or have even reduced costs.

In Scotland, the scheme has backing from the Scottish Government, and a dedicated Food for Life team is supporting caterers in Scotland’s public and private sectors, including local authorities, schools, universities, hospitals and leisure outlets, to meet the standards. In Wales, half of universities are part of the Food for Life Catering Mark.

And through our Food for Life Partnership work in over 4,400 schools in England, we are helping pupils, parents and teachers understand more about where their food comes from, and ask the right questions of their caterers, driving the culture change we need to reduce the risk of scandals like this one happening again.

Soil Association Head of Policy, Joanna Lewis said:
“Too few of us now know where our food comes from, and when it comes to food in our schools and hospitals, we cannot even check the label. The Soil Association has taken up the challenge of transforming catering across the UK. Our Food for Life Catering Mark is the UK’s only independent accreditation scheme setting standards of traceability, quality and provenance for public sector meals and inspecting caterers to ensure that standards are met. The Food for Life Catering Mark accredits over 650,000 meals a day, including food in 20% of schools in England and the UK’s largest chain of nurseries.”

Jeanette Orrey, Food for Life Partnership School Meals Policy Advisor:
“Malcolm Walker would have been right about school meals ten years ago but we have all come a long way since I started Food for Life with the Soil Association as a dinner lady in 2003. One of the outcomes that I'm most proud of is that over 57 Local Authorities serve meals that are meeting our Bronze standard or higher. This means that, contrary to Mr Walker's belief, they have been putting quality food for our children first for a number of years.”

ENDS

For press enquiries contact the Soil Association press office:

Holly Black, Digital Communications and Press Officer – 0117 914 5170
hblack@soilassociation.org

Notes

The Food for Life Partnership has created network of over 4,400 schools across England committed to transforming their food culture. It supports them to provide fresh, well-sourced and nutritious meals and improve their overall lunchtime experience. It helps children, adults and teachers understand the importance of good nutrition and where their food comes through practical cooking and growing activities and farm visits.

1. Local authority and private caterers holding Food for Life Catering Mark awards in the schools sector:

Gold

  • Alliance in Partnership - for schools in the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
  • Aspens - for 8 primary schools in North Somerset
  • Dolce - for 91 schools in Cumbria and Berkshire
  • East Ayrshire Council - for 41 schools
  • Edwards and Ward - for 225 schools in Gloucestershire and North Somerset
  • Food for Thought Merseyside for 18 schools
  • Food 4 Thought - 20 schools
  • Havering and Thurrock - for 68 primary schools
  • ISS Education - for 44 schools in the London Borough of Merton
  • Plymouth City Council - for 83 schools
  • Pride Catering - for one school in Twickenham
  • The Farm Kitchen - for 82 schools in Lincolnshire
  • Willoughby Foods - for 20 schools in Lincolnshire
  • London Borough of Havering Catering Service - for 86 schools in Havering

Silver

  • Apricot Catering Ltd - for 4 schools in Herefordshire
  • Caterlink - for 110 schools in Camden and Islington
  • Chartwells - for 61 schools in Lewisham
  • Eden Foodservice for 23 primary schools in Torbay
  • Flair Catering for 3 primary schools
  • Good Lookin Cookin - for 16 schools in Lincolnshire
  • ISS Education - for 34 schools in Bracknell
  • ISS Education - for 33 schools in the London Borough of Richmond
  • ISS Education - for 53 schools in the London Borough of Redbridge
  • ISS Education - for 49 schools in York
  • Local Food Links Ltd - for 24 schools in Dorset
  • London Borough of Sutton Catering Services- for 39 schools in Sutton
  • Nottinghamshire County Council - for 360 schools in Nottinghamshire
  • Oldham Borough Council - for 98 schools in Oldham
  • Pride Catering - for 4 schools in London
  • School Food Company - for 3 schools in Cheshire
  • Shropshire County Council - for 141 schools in Shropshire
  • Talkingtonbates - for The Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead and Camden

Bronze

  • Accent Catering Services Ltd - for 19 schools in London and South East
  • Alliance in Partnership - for 25 schools in the West Midlands
  • Ashlyns - 9 achools in Hackney, 5 in Essex and 1 in Cambridge
  • Bath & North East Somerset Council - for 56 schools
  • BAM FM for 4 Academies in Bristol
  • Cambridgeshire Catering and Cleaning services for Enrnulf Academy
  • Caterlink - for 38 schools in Windsor and Maidenhead
  • Cheshire East Council - for 125 schools
  • Children's Dining Company - for 10 schools in Bromley
  • Class Catering - 28 kitchens covering the 4 surrounding counties of Worcs
  • Contract Dining Company - for 19 schools in Kent
  • Cucina Restaurants Ltd (Food for Thought) - for 1 school in Kettering
  • Cygnet Catering - for 103 schools in Lincs, Kingston, Hereford, Worcester, Devon, Bedford, Wilts, Swindon, Aylesbury and Milton Keynes
  • Devon Catering and Cleaning Services - for 270 schools
  • DS Catering - 68 schools in Hounslow, Hillingdon and Ealing.
  • Eden Foodservice for 64 junior/primary schools in Brighton and Hove
  • Eden Foodservice - for 12 schools in the London Borough of Croydon
  • Eden Foodservice - for 48 schools in Anglesey
  • Edwards and Blake - for 14 schools in East Anglia and the Midlands
  • Flintshire council - for 73 primary schools
  • Greenwich Service Plus - for 77 schools
  • Harrison Catering Services Ltd - for 264 schools in Bexley, Lambeth, Ealing, Wandsworth and Southwark
  • Highland Council - for 206 schools
  • Independent catering - for 43 schools in Kent and the South East
  • ISS Education for 18 schools in Devon
  • ISS Education for 18 schools in Slough
  • Kirklees Council - for 184 schools
  • London Borough of Barnet - for 62 schools
  • London Borough of Barking and Dagenham for 51 schools
  • London Borough of Tower Hamlets - for 81 schools
  • London Borough of Waltham Forest - for 58 schools
  • Newnham Catering and Cleaning Services - for 55 schools
  • Norse Commercial Services - for 28 schools
  • Northumberland County Council - for 190 schools
  • Pabulum - for 60 schools within a 125 mile radius of Fleet
  • Pride Catering - for 11 schools in London, Surrey and Hants
  • Principals - for 5 schools in Kent, and London Fire Brigade
  • Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council - for 65 schools in Rochdale, Middleton and Heywood
  • School Food Support - for 248 schools in Leicestershire
  • Sodexo - for 150 schools in Bromley and Wiltshire
  • Solihull Catering Services - for 66 schools
  • Southampton City Council - for 65 primary schools
  • Stirling Council - for 44 schools
  • Surrey Commercial Services - for 292 schools
  • Taylor Shaw - for 214 primary and infant schools in County Durham
  • The Brookwood Partnership - for 1 school in London
  • Total Catering Solutions for 30 schools in Kent and Essex
  • Warwickshire County Caterers - for 181 schools

 






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