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Soil Association launches consultation on Catering Mark frozen meals

Today the Soil Association opens a month-long consultation on its Food for Life Catering Mark (Catering Mark).  The consultation invites comments on proposed changes to the Catering Mark Standards to incorporate frozen hospital and community meals.

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. Critically, under its aim of good food for all, the Soil Association believes in encouraging the best possible food for those who need it most.  Therefore it proposes to adapt the Standards to permit frozen meals in hospitals and community meals settings only where no proper on site kitchens are available.

Peter Melchett, Soil Association policy director, said: "We will always insist on meals being freshly prepared on site if suitable facilities are available.  This proposed change to the Food for Life Catering Mark Standards is 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."

The consultation will ask questions including whether the Standards should require a frozen meal to always be served with fresh ingredients prepared on site such as salad or homemade bread, and the distance from hub kitchen to point of service.

Beccy Speight, Chair of the Food for Life Catering Mark Standards Committee said: "The views of everyone with an interest in the Food for Life Catering Mark are important to help ensure the Standards are robust and fit for purpose. We always consult on a proposed shift in the Standards such as this one and hope that caterers, hospitals, community meal providers and dieticians will take the opportunity presented by this consultation to make their views known."