Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hypocrisy from the government No. 378642985

Last week Bob Spink MP and I put some questions together for the MoD after that ridiculous speech by Comrade Brown telling us not to throw away food.

It was in relation to army ration packs which do not have a sell by date because they are tested for freshness in another way but because of that they cannot be sold on etc. Also, because they cost more than fresh food, messes will not mix them in with the other meals because it's cheaper to use fresh food. So they get thrown away. And then, of course, thanks to the Tory MEP Caroline Jackson and her other pro EU cronies, we get fined for exceeding our landfill limit.
From the Press Association:

Armed Forces minister Bob Ainsworth said that his department disposed of 122,086 "24-hour operational ration packs" (ORPs) between 2003 and 2007.

It means the MoD has thrown away food worth more than £1 million, and emerged at a time when the Government is urging people not to waste food.

Earlier this month Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: "If we are to get food prices down, we must also do more to deal with unnecessary demand such as by all of us doing more to cut our food waste which is costing the average household in Britain about £8 per week."

But in a written Commons answer, Mr Ainsworth said the MoD had thrown away 95,299 ration packs in 2005 alone.

Why not sell them cheaply after a certain amount of time? Or is that too much of an inconvenience? Easier to throw them away, eh?


US said...

I'm pretty sure you're wrong. Whilst most of the rat packs pretty much live for ever I'm fairly confident that there are one or two items that do have a best before date. The chocolate bars are one of the items that springs to mind.

I agree that technically when they reached a certain date you could issue a recall and then sell them but the cost of doing so would probably be more than cost of the items.

Not saying that the MOD don't waste a lot of money cause some of it is bloody ridiculous. Just think this one doesn't add up.

Trixy said...

You can't sell items which don't have a sell by date, as confirmed to me by the Food Standards Authority.

They are tested by MoD chemists but once they are past their sell by date they are thrown away instead of someone trying to do something with them before they expire.

There are people working at Bicester who assisted me with this issue: the mess there does not use the ration packs in their meals because of the price issue, and they don't exactly have to go far to collect them.

So, food which could have been eaten is being thrown away.

US said...

Bicester could maybe use the stock - persuading anyone to eat it when they aren't on exercise/operations is a different matter. Was your entire figure for MOD wastage from Bicester as a lot of stock at the unit level is binned after recall notices. Never worked at the bigger distribution level so I you are probably right about excess stocks at the central distribution point. Who would you give it to though? Who would take food that is not fit for squaddies? DFID would probably refuse it for stocks for emergency aid - in the same way that recently vacated single soldier accomodation apparently isn't good enough for asylum seekers or those convicted of crime. Also I suspect that employing people to redistribute the food would be more expensive than chucking it in a skip. Not that I'm bitter - just slightly bemused!

Trixy said...

My view, and the view of the people who I have spoken to about this, is that it should be sold at less than cost to either catering departments in the forces or given to aid agencies or homeless shelters before it expires.

I can understand that not all can clearly be used in this way, but it cannot be beyond the realms of possibility that we can put it to better use than landfill.

US said...

Totally agree about giving it away to aid agencies or homeless charities if they'd pick it up. God forgive giving it to the forces - retention rates are bad enough as it is! Most forces locations are moving on to Pay As You Dine - i.e proper cafeterias which are not run by the MOD (NAAFI has the contract at the minute for most garrisons which made most of us piss ourselves laughing they're so shite), so getting rid of it through canteens wouldn't work.

I totally agree that it would be better to give it away than throw it away - I really don't think anyone would take it though. They're designed to provide all the nutrition an active squaddie needs - that doesn't mean that after a week or two on them the favourite topic of conversation at scoff is what you are going to eat when you finish what you are doing.