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Scottish prison food in the dock

09 August 2004
Scottish prison food in the dock

The quality of Scottish prison food is set to come under scrutiny in the courts as part of a series of legal actions lodged on behalf of about 500 prisoners across seven jails.

The issue of unhealthy diet is included among their complaints, according to lawyer Tony Kelly, who is acting for the prisoners.

A report Kelly commissioned last year from Glasgow University found that the menus served at Glasgow's Barlinnie jail were dominated by high-salt and high-fat dishes such as burgers, sausages and processed meals, and did not offer the recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetables.

Kelly said prisoners were only given a piece of oily fish one day every three weeks while healthy options such as pasta and salad were served with chips.

"People who come to prison in the main are unhealthy (from a dietary point of view) young males. They are giving them what unhealthy young males eat on the outside," said Kelly.

He believed the government was missing a golden opportunity to educate people about healthy eating.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Prison Services did not believe the service was being sued over food.

She said the SPS in-house caterers offered a balanced menu to the 7,000 inmates of Scotland's jails that included a healthy option each day.

The cost of each meal averaged £1.27.

She added that monthly focus groups bought together catering managers and prisoners for feedback on the menus.

by Angela Frewin

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