Skip to main content

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

Volume 474: debated on Tuesday 1 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the (a) quality and (b) quantity of food supplies to (i) British forces and (ii) ISAF forces in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. (197012)

All food supplied to all British and ISAF forces meets EU Quality and Food Safety Standards. Quality assurance checks are carried out throughout the supply chain and food quality is continually monitored by deployed chefs and food supply staff. UK technical staff also regularly visit theatre to monitor quality.

In terms of quantity, a large reserve of both operational ration packs (ORPs) and commercial food is held in Kabul to ensure that all demands from the front line are met. Both Main Operating Bases and Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) that are catering with ORPs are also provided with fresh food, the quantities of which are only ever impeded by the physical logistics of the challenging environment.

The feeding arrangements in main ISAF locations are the responsibility of NATO. I am aware, however, that UK NATO Food Services Staff have regular discussions with the Contractor and NATO regarding the dining facilities and that no official complaints have been received.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department is taking to prevent menu fatigue amongst UK forces in Afghanistan issued with 24-hour operational ration packs; and if he will make a statement. (197015)

We place the utmost importance on ensuring our troops are properly fed on operations, and indeed throughout the world. Huge effort goes into nutritional analysis, designing and planning menus, delivering food stocks and preparing food to ensure our men and women have all the proper nutrition they need to carry out their demanding and important tasks. We are aware that menu fatigue can arise, however, and every effort is made to alleviate it.

There are 10 General Purpose menus available in the 24 hour Operational Ration Packs (ORP), and plans are under way to increase this number to 14. There are also five Halal, five Sikh/Hindu and five Kosher/Vegetarian variants and five 10 Man ORP variants available. The majority of remote operating locations also receive supplies of fresh food at least once a week which are used to supplement ORPs.

Royal Logistics Corps chefs have now been deployed to all of the Forward Operating Bases, and provide cooked meals for personnel using ORPs and fresh food supplies. Meals in the larger bases are generally provided from a three to four week multiple choice menu cycle. All chefs supporting the British armed forces on operations take great pride in providing a varied and high quality menu and are very responsive to customer feedback. Unit commanders are also provided with guidance on how to ensure that personnel remain properly nourished and hydrated on operations.