By Rory Reynolds
THE Ministry of Defence is spending a fraction of what their coalition counterparts spend on food for troops.
US troops receive £11-worth of food per day of high quality grub – including veal and baked trout – while Scots squaddies have just £3.45 spent on them.
And the Australian, German and Canadian governments all spend more than food for their armed forces than the UK does.
Mike Lean, professor of nutrition at Glasgow University, said he was “suspicious” of how the MoD manage to keep troops healthy on so little, while critics have labelled the disparity “massively damaging to morale”.
Currently all US troops serving in desert conditions are given a full cooked breakfast including bacon, link sausage, ham, eggs, hash browns, fresh fruit, French toast, bread and pastries.
However last week it emerged that UK forces go into battle on a breakfast that costs as little as 52 pence.
US troops are also given Italian-style veal, chilli con carne, baked trout or prime rib of beef for lunch, while dinner includes scallops, fresh vegetables, and banana split.
A spokesman for the US Department of Defence said: “This menu is used for US soldiers, other US military personnel and coalition forces in support of operations in Southwest Asia.
“This includes Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Qatar.
“The approximate cost is $16.47 (£10.96) per person per day.”
The Australian government currently spends £4.30 per day per soldier on meals, but said that they are planning to increase spending.
They added that they are sending seven extra chefs out to Afghanistan to provide soldiers with more barbecue meals and fresh vegetables.
While Germany’s Bundeswehr forces had to review their dietary plan in December 2008 after it emerged that 40 of personnel were overweight, partly due to their excessive beer rations.
Mike Lean, Professor of Human Nutrition at the University of Glasgow said that he is “suspicious” of how the MoD can provide enough food for just £3.
He said: “The bottom line is that spending £3.45 a day on each soldier is not a lot of money to ensure they are primed for action when needed.
“Good food is a morale issue and gives the troops a sense of warmth.
“They need variety and enough to give them their daily 3500 calories, but I’m suspicious of how the MoD can do this for just a few pounds a day.”
Steven Gresty, of the Fife Veterans’ Association said spending such a small amount on food means that meals are often sub-standard.
He said: “When it comes to things like food and kit, British troops have always looked at their US counterparts with envy.
“We regularly send parcels to troops and some tell us they rely on food sent from home for calories and nourishment.”
Angus Robertson, SNP defence spokesman, added: “It beggars belief the MoD are ignoring the advice of nutritionists and scrimping on something as basic as food.
“To hear their American colleagues are receiving better treatment will be massively damaging to morale.”
The Ministry of Defence said that British chefs decide what to make on the day, but added that popular dishes include chicken curry and grilled chicken breast.
A spokeswoman for the MoD said that the food they give troops “represent excellent value for money”.
She added: “When buying in food, our priority is to ensure our troops and personnel are well fed and watered during deployment.
“Military chefs are main operating bases cook meals that are well-balanced, nutritious and plentiful using a wide range of ingredients including fresh fruit and vegetables.
“Qualified chefs at the majority of forward operating bases will use fresh rations whenever possible.”