from Helen Shiels, retail campaign manager, Rethink Rubbish

Sir; I was interested to read your Saturday Essay by Susan Bromley of the Co-operative Group about its role in influencing healthier eating (The Grocer, October 11, p26).

In it she says the Co-operative Group’s marketing standards restrict the entry of ‘non-perfect’ fresh produce from store shelves.

I would like to know what happens to this unwanted fruit and veg once it has been rejected by the marketing standards panel, and also what markets the stuff is resold or donated to.

Apart from the healthy eating angle, I am enquiring about this in light of the Landfill Directive, specifically in so far as it relates to the restrictions on organics and the new obligations on retailers as part of this to compost unwanted organics.

My other area of interest here is where school catering comes into the equation of influencing the nation’s healthier eating.

Could any of this rejected fruit and veg, as reported, find its way into school meals as a cost-cutting measure by catering contractors, given new evidence that the average prison meal is probably more nutritious and costs more to make than the average school lunch.

I am also interested to know if schools could or do make use of this less than perfect produce.

If they did, that, incidentally, could also reduce the volume of organics going into landfill.

I would also be interested to find out more about school meals and catering services from the point of view of what measures government is taking to improve nutrition in schools and whether any retailer is linked to schools in providing rejected produce.