The first ever Red Tractor-accredited salads and sandwiches will go on sale at the London Olympic Games this summer, The Grocer can reveal.
Red Tractor already assures a wide range of fresh British produce – as well as meat and dairy – but the scheme has not been used to accredit sandwiches or salads to date.
Olympics supplier Food Partners Group, which will be responsible for supplying the vast majority of the more than one million pre-packed sandwiches at the Games this summer, has been working with Red Tractor Assurance since mid-2011 to establish the necessary standards.
For a sandwich or salad to be Red Tractor-certified, any produce and protein used in them will need to be assured to Red Tractor standards, with the exception of ingredients such as prawns and tuna as well as any produce that cannot be sourced to Red Tractor standards due to seasonality.
Sauces and condiments will also be excluded from the standard, as will the bread in sandwiches and other carbohydrates used in salads.
Food Partners technical director Peter Cleghorn said developing standards for component products, such as sandwiches or salads – where not one single ingredient accounts for 65% of the overall weight – had been a difficult process, with bread proving especially challenging.
“Bread presents us with a particular issue because the use of exclusively British wheat for these products means that it produces loaves that are inconsistent in shape and texture, which is clearly a real problem in the manufacture of sandwiches and something that our bakers have not been able to overcome,” he said.
Although a small number of Red Tractor-accredited loaves were available in retailers, Food Partners found it was “simply not viable” to use them in sandwich manufacturing bread, he added.
“However, in order to ensure that consumers are really clear about what they are buying, all packs carrying the Red Tractor logo will have a statement alongside to clarify exactly which of the ingredients are Red Tractor assured,” Cleghorn said.
He added that achieving Red Tractor accreditation for Food Partners’ sandwiches and salads had resulted in the company and its suppliers buying more British produce as they set out to source sufficient quantities of ingredients that comply with all of the standards.
Red Tractor chief executive David Clarke said the addition of Food Partners to the scheme marked “a new and exciting era” for the Red Tractor logo, and would allow Red Tractor to extend the breadth of products it could offer to consumers. “This mirrors the growing trend of consumers who are demanding quality food with a clear sign of origin,” he said.
He added Red Tractor was working closely with all contract caterers to the Games – and their suppliers – “to deliver affordable, sustainable food over the four weeks of the Olympic Games and across 40 different locations.”
In an exclusive interview with The Grocer, ahead of the Olympic Games, Jan Matthews, head of catering, cleaning and waste for LOCOG, said the creation of the new standard for Red Tractor sandwiches and salads was “a fantastic achievement and would be part of the legacy of London 2012.”
“With suppliers embracing Red Tractor, Fairtrade, MSC and even Freedom Food, it’s far ahead of anything we expected. I am absolutely delighted at how the industry has responded.”
Olympic Feast: read our exclusive interview with Jan Matthews, head of catering, cleaning and waste for the London 2012 Olympic Games in this weekend’s edition of The Grocer.