The most effective of British – jail meals

A short posting on past and present prison delicacies

I’ve usually experienced an desire in halal food in tokyo  and it came to be a unique delight when in my past five many years of support, I became head of an Investigation and Audit workforce in one of London’s greatest prisons. Element of the team’s job was to inspect and report on ailments in jail kitchens.To enable me to undertake the do the job, I’d to carry out an excellent offer of exploration and information gathering to allow me to carry out this functionality. Meals managing and hygiene getting only one on the standard places to address. Meals preparation tactics, well balanced diet plans, expert professional medical diets are all a part of the way of life of a jail, or indeed any other style of institutional kitchen.

Each and every jail in Britain is inspected by an unbiased overall body, HM Prison Inspectorate, on an irregular basis. For that reason, it can be essential that each jail kitchen area is structured, maintained and managed on the incredibly highest typical whatsoever situations. In the late 1980’s, HM Jail Assistance misplaced the security of, “Crown Immunity”. This prevented any sort of prosecution through the courts for virtually any infringements in the legislation. The ‘Crown’ could never prosecute by itself – The Crown verses Crown. In effect, it intended that a jail could now receive severe sanctions for inadequate effectiveness in almost any space, particularly Health and fitness & Security and catering. It could also mean that the jail kitchen area could even be closed down if found to be in a bad state of management, maintenance or cleanliness. This was highlighted pretty clearly in September of 2009 when 370 prisoners at London’s largest prison, HMP Wandsworth were struck down with salmonella poisoning. If a jail kitchen area were suddenly ordered to close down, you can imagine the chaos this would cause. HMP Wandsworth is the largest jail in Western Europe and holds over 1,600 prisoners. How do you provide over 4,800 meals a day at incredibly limited notice? The only hope of keeping the roof on the jail is to ensure that the Emergency Contingency Planners have done their homework and an alternative system can be brought on line with immediate influence.

How it used to be

Wandsworth Prison was built in 1851. It was one of several earliest London prisons and was originally called the Surrey House of Corrections. Mayhew & Binney, in their 1868 edition of, “Criminal Prisons of London”, describe vividly the life inside the London prisons from the 1800’s. Food items did not seem quite high on the agenda with the prison system at this time. Containment seemed to be the priority. The Surrey House of Correction was certainly built to help to reduce overcrowding on the Houses of Correction at Brixton, Guildford and Kingston, where “jail fever” was rampant and prisoners were dying. When inspecting the Surrey House of Corrections in 1862, Mayhew and Binney noted the menu and diet plans with the various classes of prisoners held within the jail. Convicted prisoners employed at ‘hard labour’ for terms exceeding 21 days were allowed the following meals:

Breakfast 1 pint of oatmeal gruel and 6 oz of bread Dinner Sunday & Thursday 1 pint of soup and 8 oz of bread Dinner Tuesday & Saturday 3 oz of cooked meat without bone 8 oz bread ½ lb potatoes Dinner Monday, Wednesday & Friday 8 oz bread and 1 lb of potatoes Supper Same as breakfast

As you may well imagine, the low calorific and nutritional values of such a diet would lead to serious well being problems – jail fever.

When I worked at High Down High Security jail in Surrey, we presented the Lord Lieutenant of the County with a framed copy from the recipe for Gruel. The Governor in the prison in the time, Stephen Prior, took the Lord Lieutenant and his wife home for dinner, and guess what was first on the menu – jail gruel. He actually loved it! So much so that he instructed his own chef to add it to his dinner party menus to impress his guests (I bet it did!).

This is the original recipe from the Surrey House of Corrections kitchen circa. 1862: Ingredients for Soup and Gruel: The soup to contain, per pint, 3 ounces of cooked meat, without bone, 3 ounces of potatoes, 1 ounce of barley, rice, or oatmeal, and 1 ounce of onions or leeks, with pepper and salt. The gruel to contain 2 ounces of oatmeal per pint. The gruel on alternate days to be sweetened with three quarter ounces of molasses or sugar and seasoned with salt.

In seasons when the potato crop has failed, 4 ounces of split peas made into a pudding may be occasionally substituted; but the change must not be made more than twice in each week. Boys under 14 several years of age to be placed on the same diet as females.

The female diet was the same as the male prisoner diet with the exception that where the male received 8 oz of bread the female would receive 6 ounces.

For those prisoners serving less than seven days, the menu was pretty primary: Breakfast 1 pint of gruel Dinner 1 lb of bread Supper 1 pint of gruel

These prison weight loss plans lasted well into the 1900’s and bear no comparison to today’s jail foodstuff. Modern prisoners wouldn’t stand for it and the authorities could never ever allow it. Even the punishment diet of bread and water was removed from the Prison Rules within the 1960’s. The term, “Doing Porridge” still remains an avid description of someone who is in prison, referring of course, to the old diet of oatmeal gruel.