Tuesday, 26 February 2013
Monday, 18 February 2013
I hadn't planned to Blog about the horse meat scandal at all, but the comment from the Chief Executive of Iceland, Malcolm Walker, stating the problem was down to hospitals and local authorities driving out cost when negotiating contracts, certainly changed my mind.
Blaming others is shameful and not at all helpful as this is a very serious issue, and in my opinion, there should be a big debate around food and processed food. There have been some interesting articles in the newspapers and commentary on the radio, which has been helpful, but there should be more.
Convenience and ready-made food has been around for centuries, the Cornish Pasty being one example of a small amount of meat with potato and veg wrapped in pastry. It provided plenty of carbohydrates for those doing really physical work for ten or more hours a day. The important issue is that meat specified on labels is accurate and truthful.
Along with other local authorities, we do not directly provide the majority of school meals but buy, or commission, from a provider. In West Sussex, our main primary school contractors are Chartwells/Cygnet, although we do directly cater in-house for our special schools across ten sites. Around ten other primary schools use a different provider.
Over the last few years Councillors have been invited to sample these and our Meals on Wheels meals. On both occasions the meal supplied was tasty and neither too salty or sugary, and provided a balanced meal which included two of the five-a-day allocation of fruit and veg.
As a County Council we must make sure that the school meals are healthy and balanced, we do also have to consider cost when negotiating the contract as we need to ensure we get the very best value for money for our taxpayers.
When this scandal first emerged we did indeed check with our suppliers about meat content. We have been assured that due checking takes place to ensure that there are no other meats, i.e. horse, in those meals. In fact, their suppliers undergo regular independent checks to ensure strict food quality and safety standards are upheld.
Whilst I do not agree with harking back to the past, I do remember the Domestic Science Class that I and every pupil had on their timetable. Our teacher taught us about food and nutrition, and we learnt how to make cheese sauce, macaroni cheese, shepherd’s pie, spaghetti bolognese and even nut cutlets. We were taught the foundations to make a cheap nutritious meal, and I am grateful for that education.
It was recently announced that the new draft national curriculum contains proposals for primary school students to have compulsory practical lessons in how to make simple, healthy food. I think this is a really good idea as everyone should know the basics for how to cook for themselves and how to eat healthily.
26 February 2013: You can never be sure in life. At the time when I wrote this blog we had been reassured by our contractors. However, Sodexo have announced that they have withdrawn all frozen beef products nationally after some tested positive for horsemeat. Sodexo do supply a limited number of schools in the county with meals. On-going testing is taking place across the country and we are working closely with all our contractors.
Posted by West Sussex County Council at 16:49
Monday, 4 February 2013
Last Thursday the Shadow Health and Wellbeing Board met in Horsham. It was particularly heartening to see quite a few people in the audience observing the meeting.
In West Sussex we have three Clinical Commissioning Groups who will be providing health care across the county from April, and each presented their draft commissioning plans for the year ahead, which they have all been working hard on, to the Shadow Health and Wellbeing Board for final sign off.
We also had a very useful and informative presentation from the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) who talked about end of life care. Whilst I accept that this is not the easiest issue to discuss, in principle everyone wants a good death. Whether that happens depends on many things, including our own personal wishes and making them known.
Being able to discuss and having some really helpful literature is very much down to the NCPC raising awareness through their Dying Matters Campaign, which I support and I very much hope that the County Council will be involved in the Dying Matters Awareness Week this coming May.
The presentation provided a useful platform where the Doctors from the Clinical Commissioning Groups were able to speak about the importance about end of life care and how this will be embedded in their plans, but also for the Health and Wellbeing Board to co-ordinate a strategy.
Without Health and Wellbeing Boards there would be no other way to learn what all our West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Groups think about such important matters, or how they are integrating them into their plans.
We have many providers such as hospices, Macmillan, and Marie Curie, to name but a few, in the county who are committed to working with patients who are at the end of their life. The work they do is tremendous as is the support they receive from the communities either as volunteers or fundraising. They have a really important role to play, but they can be even more effective if we learn to be more comfortable in talking about such matters.
If this has sparked an interest in you please do look at the website http://www.ncpc.org.uk/.
To find out more about the work of the Shadow Health and Wellbeing Board, click here.
Posted by West Sussex County Council at 10:38