The government is facing calls to investigate the standard of food served to Armed Forces personnel, after claims that service personnel have been banned from taking photographs and using social media to criticise their meals.
Speaking at Defence Questions in the House of Commons, Conservative MP Tim Loughton said:
"Is the Secretary Of State aware that the standard of food for the military on HMS Sultan and other similar naval establishments has become the source of such complaints that service personnel have been banned from taking photographs and using social media to critique it?"
"What’s he doing to make sure our servicemen and women are being looked after in such a basic area as food?"
In reply, Defence Minister Mark Lancaster said:
"Defence personnel are offered core meals covering breakfast, lunch and dinner with set calorific and nutritional standards and this includes unlimited access to carbohydrates and vegetables.
"I confess that I’ve experienced food which serves our Armed Forces personnel on a regular basis. Personally I’ve not experienced a poor standard of food.
"Normally the process is for there to be a complaint by the chain of command but I’m more than happy to look into the matter for my honourable friend."
It followed a campaign from a person claiming to be a soldier calling himself ‘Alfie’, including an open letter to Army bosses with alleged pictures of food shared by troops around the country.
The pictures, which were posted on Facebook along with the letter, showed a fried egg covered in mould, a blood-raw chicken leg and tinned tomatoes with what appears to be a maggot in them.
What appears to be a maggot in tinned tomatoes. Picture: Facebook
In the letter posted on the social networking site, ‘Alfie’ wrote:
"I have taken the time to put a few photos together so you can see what the blokes are being served."
"We all know these complaints fall on deaf ears. I have already posted these questions, along with images, to Sodexo for response."
A mouldy fried egg. Picture: Facebook
"Unfortunately, these posts have been deleted and I have now been blocked by Sodexo UK."
"I'm sure you're as troubled as I am to see mouldy eggs, undercooked chicken and maggots in tomatoes served to our service personnel."
Sodexo is one of the world's largest catering firms and supplies more than 80 Army, Navy and RAF sites in the UK, Cyprus and the Falklands.
The firm said: "We are one of a number of companies who provide catering services to the Armed Forces and we take very seriously any complaints about the quality of our food.
"We know categorically that a number of the photos being circulated have been taken from sites where we do not operate and there is no evidence that other images are from Sodexo operated sites."
"We are keen to investigate complaints properly but can only do so if customers inform the Sodexo team where they purchase the food at the time so that the issue can be looked into straight away.
"We have shared that message with ‘Alfie’ and his Fill Your Boots Group and through our own Facebook page."
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson, meanwhile, said at the time:
"[The] MOD has contracts in place to ensure our Armed Forces get good quality meals. We will investigate any complaints and make sure they are dealt with and consider any poor performance in the re-tendering of contracts."