MoD plan kosher food for Army to march on

By Marcus Dysch, November 18, 2010

A new range of kosher ration packs for Jewish troops serving in the armed forces will be part of a multi-million pound deal sealed by the Ministry of Defence.

The rations will include kosher meat meals and will be available to those serving in all three branches of the military in Afghanistan and other locations worldwide.

Many of the products are specially designed to make them easier to carry and boost energy levels while troops are on patrol.

Martin Newman, chairman of the Jewish Committee for HM Forces, said: "They will provide something very similar to the general rations so they will be boil-in-the-bag and will include a range of kosher meat and vegetarian options.

"We had some samples a couple of months ago and the new packs will be available next year."

Colonel Newman said it was difficult to give exact numbers of British Jewish troops, as individuals do not always identify themselves as Jewish when joining the forces.

But it is known that Jewish troops number in the hundreds and serve around the world in all three armed forces as medics, engineers and infantry servicemen and women.

Col Newman said: "They will appreciate these meals very much. It is not only due to there being sufficient demand, but to the MoD doing what it thinks is right. They would do it even if it was only for one person. As an employer, the MoD is the tops."

Captain Jeremy Rigby, of the MoD, said: "We are constantly receiving and responding to feedback from our boys and girls in Afghanistan, which make sure we keep up with taste trends and how they break the packs down and carry them."

The changes are similar to those experienced by the Israeli Army.

IDF combat rations come in small boxes designed to hold a day's food for five soldiers. For 60 years the main course was tins of "louf", a local version of the British army's bully beef of World War Two. Tins of turkey, corn, tuna, sardines, pickles, olives and for dessert, halva and sweets, are also served.

All products are authorised by the IDF's military rabbinate and purchased from manufacturers under supervision of local kashrut authorities.

In recent years, the army has been phasing out the beef, though large reserves of the tins still exist. But combat soldiers have complained that there is not enough meat in the rations and the IDF is currently developing a local kosher equivalent of the American army's MREs (meals ready to eat).

It is an aluminium bag containing goulash, shishlik, or other meaty dishes, with a sachet of chemicals for heating up the meal in 30 seconds.

Last updated: 3:41pm, November 18 2010