School meals row between supplier and councils resolved

Caroline Clark, company director of UK Ideal Ltd.
Caroline Clark, company director of UK Ideal Ltd.
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UPDATE THURSDAY 10AM: A row between a business which supplies more than 1,000 meals to schools in Lincolnshire and two councils which challeneged their operations has been resolved.

An agreement has been reached between Spalding-based UK Ideal Ltd, Boston Borough Council and North Kesteven District Council allowing the business to resume its school meals service after it was told to stop on Monday.

The councils accused UK Ideal Ltd, which took over the operations of Food4Thought Ltd earlier this month, of “trading illegally and supplying meals to children”.

UK Ideal Ltd took legal action of its own to overturn a Remedial Action Notice, an order restricting or preventing a business from operating in arae where food safety is thought to be an issue, served on it by the councils on Monday.

But a joint statement from the two councils on Wednesday said: “Approval has been granted by both Boston Borough Council and North Kesteven District Council to Ideal Catering Group (UK Ideal Ltd) to resume its full school meals service Thursday.

“The company has done everything the authorities have asked of it to ensure the ongoing successful delivery of its school meals service to customers.

“At all times children’s health and wellbeing has been at the forefront of our minds and we appreciate the positive action taken by the company to resolve this matter as quickly as possible.

“The quality of the food has never been in question and Ideal Catering Group (UK Ideal Ltd) has ensured that at no point during this period have children gone without food.

“Environmental Health Officers from both authorities will be proactively contacting all schools affected to reassure them of the current position.”

UK Ideal Ltd company director Caroline Clark said: “We are grateful for the opportunity to resolve all outstanding matters and resume our full service in providing children with their lunches.”

WEDNESDAY 6.40PM: A business supplying more than 1,000 meals to schools in South Holland and other parts of Lincolnshire faces uncertainty over its future operations.

Spalding-based Food4Thought GB Ltd has been told to stop providing meals to schools in Boston and North Kesteven after joint action by councils for both areas on Monday.

The councils claim that the firm, now known as UK Ideal Ltd, went into liquidation on November 4 but then continued to supply meals to schools without their consent.

Several schools in South Holland, such as Shepeau Stow Primary School, were left having to ask parents to provide packed lunches for their children on Tuesday.

Executive headteacher Alison Buddle said: “We are awaiting confirmation about what will happen for the rest of the week, but we have bought food into school to ensure that all our pupils will receive a lunch every day.”

A spokesman for both councils said: “Food4Thought GB Ltd is currently trading illegally and supplying meals to children.

“The Food Standards Agency’s guidance is clear that the role of the local authority is that we must take take action to stop them and, indeed, the agency advised us to do this as a matter of urgency on Monday.”

UK Ideal company director Caroline Clark said: “Whilst we are continuing to challenge the action taken and take legal steps to prove its inaccuracy, we are hopeful of ensuring that children across Lincolnshire will continue to receive food of high provenance, quality and safety from us.”