Have you ever wondered if that chicken kiev you're served in your local meets the same standards you'd apply when shopping yourself?
If it's supplied by Brakes Group you can take some reassurance. Brakes is the UK's leading food service business, supplying pubs, restaurants and hotels, as well as schools and hospitals, and it has led the industry in sourcing products with sustainability and ethical considerations in mind.
The company has been in business for over 50 years and in the past few years it has taken an increasingly proactive role in addressing the environmental and social issues facing all those who supply the catering and hospitality trades. Brakes uses more than 1,000 suppliers worldwide, each vetted through application of a strict ethical code. The company reviews the ethical and environmental performance of individual suppliers using a scorecard system.
And it has launched initiatives in a number of specific areas that have subsequently been emulated by competitors, raising standards across the sector.
In sustainable fishing, Brakes was the first food service supplier to introduce Marine Stewardship Council-certified products, taking endangered species such as bluefin tuna, orange roughy and Atlantic halibut off the menu and introducing less well-known names such as gurnard and Cornish albacore. It partners the MSC in the Fish & Kids project, which encourages children to eat sustainable fish and understand the importance of protecting fish stocks. And Brakes' M&J Seafood subsidiary has launched an innovative scheme called British Skippers, which establishes a direct relationship with trawler skippers who've signed up to responsible fishing standards.
Brakes champions British food, with around 300 Red Tractor products on its books and it's working with the National Farmers' Union, Defra and the British Olympic Committee among others to support the best of British food. More than 50% of the fruit and vegetables from its fresh food arm, Pauley's, comes from the UK.
It's made a 25% saving in packaging by introducing 'topless' boxes and is cutting food miles by importing fresh produce from Spain on a weekly 'green train' rather than by road. And, in March 2010, Brakes joined the FareShare partnership, supplying food that has passed its sell-by date but is still safe to eat to around 30,000 vulnerable people via a network of voluntary organisations. It plans to donate one million meals by 2011.
Amid all these initiatives, Brakes acknowledges with refreshing candour that the food service sector has traditionally been subject to less public scrutiny than other areas of the food industry and had fallen behind on some of the key environmental and ethical issues. Its determination to continue raising standards should give peace of mind to diners everywhere.
Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation
WEB LINKS: Brakes Group www.brakesgroup.co.uk
Other links: www.fishandkids.org; www.fareshare.org.uk; www.mjseafood.com/british-skippers