Armed Forces: Food

Defence written question – answered on 8th September 2014.

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Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consideration she has given to the effects of pay-as-you-dine on levels of (a) hunger, (b) obesity and (c) malnutrition.

Photo of Anna Soubry Anna Soubry The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) introduced Pay As You Dine (PAYD) in 2005 following extensive trials at Service establishments. Prior to the implementation of PAYD a standard charge for meals in the mess was made each month. PAYD is simply a mechanism whereby Service personnel pay only for those meals that they wish to consume.

PAYD gives personnel a choice and with that comes responsibility. The MOD encourages individuals to make healthy choices, although ultimately it is the responsibility of individuals to maintain a balanced diet.

There are no data to assess the impact of PAYD on levels of hunger, obesity or malnutrition. However, we ensure the health and wellbeing of Service personnel in three ways:

MOD policy in respect of Defence Catering has been formulated with subject matter experts and conforms to UK legislation. Nutrition and healthy eating is part of this policy;

Providers of the catering service are required to comply with all current legislation, including the Government Buying Standards. This requires them to provide a core meal at each meal service throughout the day (e.g. breakfast, lunch and dinner). These core meals provide access to a nutritionally balanced meal with, for example, vegetables and carbohydrates being offered on a self-service basis. Service providers actively promote healthy eating as part of the choices they provide and are encouraged to provide point of choices nutritional labelling; and

Service personnel are educated on the importance of a healthy diet. All recruits receive a lecture on nutrition and healthy eating during their basic training to emphasise the importance of maintaining operational effectiveness and fitness. It remains the responsibility of the individual to maintain the requisite level of fitness and effectiveness overseen by a duty of care from the chain of command.

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