Ashlyns Catering has been awarded the silver Food for Life Catering Mark from the Soil Association for its catering service at Braintree Community Hospital and St Margaret's Hospital in Epping, making them the first UK hospitals to achieve the status.
The accreditation recognises that the food served is fresh, healthy and made with locally sourced and organic ingredients.
Ashylns said it was committed to sourcing local produce: free-range poultry, Farm Assured beef and potatoes are all produced within Essex, while beef, free-range pork and vegetables all come from nearby Suffolk and free-range eggs are laid in Hertfordshire.
When in season soft fruit comes from local growers and all dairy products are organic, while tea, coffee and chocolate are either organic or Fairtrade, which the caterer said helps support the development of local businesses and provides further benefits to the local and regional economy.
Gary Stokes, Ashlyns projects director, said: "Ashlyns has always strived to source the best-quality ingredients to meet ever-tightening budgets and we're delighted that our commitment to serving fresh, local and organic food has been recognised by achieving the silver Food for Life Catering Mark."
Explaining the importance of the Catering Mark, Rob Sexton, chief executive of Soil Association Certification, added: "It's brilliant to see Ashlyns gaining recognition for serving fresh meals made with a range of seasonal, local and organic ingredients, demonstrating that it's possible for hospitals to have good food on the menu all of the time.
"Serving meals which meet the silver Catering Mark standards supports local businesses and reassures customers that meat and dairy products come from farms with higher standards of animal welfare."
By Janie Stamford
E-mail your comments to Janie Stamford here.
If you have something to say on this story or anything else join the debate at Table Talk - Caterer's new networking forum. Go to www.caterersearch.com/tabletalk
Looking for a new job? Find your next job here with Caterersearch.com jobs