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Press Release   •   Jul 03, 2013 12:31 BST

Pictured left to right: William McCartney, Kevin Delves, Sarah Wareham and Neil Jackson

Providing a varied, interesting and nutritionally balanced diet can encourage patients to eat well, giving them the nutrients they need to help recover from surgery or illness.

As head of catering services for Sussex Partnership NHS Trust which serves 800,000 meals each year, William McCartney understands this more than most. He said: “We are so passionate about sourcing good quality, sustainable ingredients for our customers that we have implemented ‘Plough to Plate’ and ‘Field to Fork’ programmes for meat, fish, vegetables, fruit and dairy. These have enabled us to improve quality and maximise choice for our customers and also minimise food miles, wastage and costs.”

Food sources of key nutrients such as protein, iron, zinc and B Vitamins are particularly important for patient recovery. Lean red meat can play an important part in patients’ diets by providing these nutrients. The Trust procures EBLEX Quality Standard Mark beef and lamb and Red Tractor pork from an East Sussex based catering butcher. The business is currently working with EBLEX and the Trust to develop a range of added value cuts from lesser used parts of the carcase.

Owner Kevin Delves explained: “Using less popular cuts such as rolled shoulder of lamb, brisket, rolled chuck of beef and top rump of beef, enables us to provide the Trust with the quality meat it requires at an affordable price. Of course, the price fluctuates throughout the year depending on supply and demand, so we encourage a seasonal approach and work closely with the Trust to suggest which cuts will offer best value for money at any one point in time.

“Traceability is another aspect of our business that we pride ourselves on. So much so that our comprehensive labelling system enables us to trace a product back to the farm it came from within five minutes! All our suppliers are audited before we agree to purchase from them to ensure that we can deliver quality meat to our customers’ exact specification.”

One such supplier is a traditional, family run farm based in the heart of the High Weald of Sussex. With a large flock of sheep and herds of Limousin, British Blue and Galloway cattle, the 200 acre farm is unusual in that it also operates a small abattoir serving the farming community throughout the south east. More recently, a butchery operation has been added to the site, enabling the farm to supply farmers selling direct to the public, as well as catering, retail and wholesale customers, the exact cuts and quantities they require.

Director, Sarah Wareham, runs the farm with her brother Michael and her husband, Jason, does all the buying and haulage from farms and regional markets to supply their wholesale business.  She said: “Having an abattoir at the heart of the farm is unusual, but because of the small scale of our operation, we are able to hold the animals prior to slaughter in a small lairage of straw filled pens with access to water at all times, ensuring that our animals are not unnecessarily stressed.

“We also have a system in place to ensure absolute traceability of each carcase back to the farm of origin. We are proud to be an Approved Beef and Lamb Farm which is part of the Red Tractor Assurance chain and we are grateful to both BPEX and EBLEX for helping us to reach the standards required.”

Director of estates and facilities for the Trust, Neil Jackson, concluded: “It is so important to encourage patients to eat good quality nutritious food to aid recovery. With our Plough to Plate scheme, not only have we have improved the quality of the food we offer, but we have also changed the way hospital food is delivered. Patients are now able to choose from a selection of dishes on display, as opposed to being offered pre-plated meals, giving them a much better experience and helping to ensure a speedier recovery. A variety of fruit provided throughout the day also helps boost Vitamin C intake, another nutrient which is important for recovery.

“This has been such a positive experience for us, with consistently excellent feedback from patients, that we would encourage other authorities to adopt a similar approach where possible and we would be happy to share our experiences and offer advice.”


BPEX represents pig levy payers in England and works to improve the competitiveness and efficiency of the English pig industry. BPEX is a division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.

The Red Tractor Pork logo indicates the quality and country of origin of the pork, that it has been produced responsibly to rigorous standards, is traceable back to Red Tractor farms and independently inspected at every stage of production.

EBLEX is the organisation for beef and lamb levy payers in England and is a division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

It exists to enhance the profitability and sustainability of the English beef and lamb sector. Its aims are:

  • To help the beef and sheep meat supply chain become more efficient
  • To add value to the beef and sheep meat industry.  

The EBLEX Trade Marketing team supports businesses throughout the retail and foodservice supply chains for beef and lamb. From abattoirs and processors to wholesalers, independent and multiple retailers and foodservice operators, we work with businesses to improve their operational effectiveness and assist with beef and lamb product development, marketing and promotion. Visit our website. Twitter. Facebook.

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