Prison Service Order 5000 (former prison catering manual) is a long & often updated set of regulations about Prison food. It's one of a the prison service orders online as word documents.

I'd delete this rule 2.14/13 – the table – or add a note that meat substitutes like Quorn are OK. I'm not trying to propose worse food for prisonsers, and the rest of rule 2.14 could stay. It says the same thing in a more up to date and flexible way, suggesting nutricious and varied food. There are other parts of the document about what that means in detail.

Food Group

Minimum Frequency



Fruit and Vegetables 

5 portions per day


Twice per week


Twice per week (One of which should be oily)

Supplementary Snack

Per evening

Why is this idea important?

  • Flexibility

    Flexible menus could allow better food; there are other regulations prevent worse food.
    It's difficult to imagine a caterer providing great meat & poultry on £1.37 a portion and difficult to imagine changing a menu with so many minorities and meat-processing requirements to look-out for.

    An Audit Commission report of 2006 "Serving Time" notes in the summery that I've skim-read that "On the whole, food … is in line with… recommendations … healthy eating. [ref] Prisoners are offered a variety of foods, different dietary requirements are catered for and there is a variety of choice such that prisoners who wished to eat vegetarian one day, halal the next, and a standard diet the next could do so. At least one meal option labelled as healthy, is offered at lunch and in the evening."

    On the other hand, menus "rely heavily on convenience foods, such as pies and burgers and tinned food and frozen vegetables"; "Dietary fibre, … was low", salt for adult males was "up to 93 per cent more" than recommended. There are too many calories.

    I think that governors should experiment with Quorn fillets and such. Simples.

  • Economy.

    Half the budget goes on staff, and skim reading the rest of Prison Service Order 5000 it's easy to see why. There are modern catering standards for keeping meet and poultry in separate fridges, and then there are the much older religious requirements for different kinds of meat. The word "meat" is used 103 times. Paragraphs 2.36 to 2.59 are about "variations" in diet for health or relgious reasons. So we get a situation where meat must be delivered separately from the rest in vans chilled below 8 degrees, and then another sort of meat has to come in a separate van that's also chilled.

    I suspect that there's a lot of free unsilled labour available in prisons; it is the organisation that takes money and some way to simplify food handling could make it less accident-prone or less in need of skilled staff or both. I don't know how often prisoners could do away with meat and poultry options, but even if they did it only in emergencies, or only when the usual amount of some type of meat had run-out and people ask for more, or only once a month, it could save money.

  • Wish-list: environmental benefits, more fresh vegetables, better training

    It's often quoted that the livestock industry produces more greenhouse gasses than aviation. Assuming that prison governers could waste less meat or choose to serve less, that's good for the environment.

    Most prisons might carry-on serving meat sausage rolls & chips just as before. But we see on TV how more and more people are want to avoid the likes of Turkey Twizzlers. I think this is a long term trend that regulation 2.14 bullet point 13 is holding-back.

    On the subject of long-term hopes, it's possible to imagine that prison caterers with flexibility about the menus they serve could serve more fresh veg & fibre. The complex menus in use now use "frozen vegetables with little use made of seasonal produce".
    And it's possible to imagine them having a chance to train prisoners in less institutional styles of catering.

One Reply to “Prison Service Order 5000 regulation 2.14 bullet point 13”

  1. I was proud of this idea when I wrote it and am sad to have heard nothing about it since. Hope it gets taken-up.

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