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November 3, 2010

Catering contractor offers healthier eating at sea

Studies of seafarers' health have found some consistent trends - those at sea tend to smoke more, drink more and take less exercise. Not surprisingly, their health is less good than the general population, according to the ITF.

Issues include obesity. A study of Danish seafarers found that three-quarters of those over the age of 45 have a weight above normal.

"Besides its influence on health, obesity may be a safety issue at sea. It may be difficult for obese persons to perform safety tasks aboard in emergencies, to use escape routes and ladders and to enter a lifeboat or a life raft. This can be crucial not only for the obese persons, but also for those depending on their actions or who are involved in assisting them," said the report by Danish occupational health professionals.

Part of the problem may lie in the seafarer's onboard diet. One company that appears to be taking steps to address this is Garrets International Limited, a London-based marine contract catering company.

Garrets says it got its start when shipping companies looking to save money started to dispense with the services of Catering Superintendents, Pursers and Catering Officers. "As a consequence," says the company, "tasks traditionally carried out by these officers came within the remit of Engineering Superintendents, with most on-board catering administration duties falling to the Master.

Garrets stepped in to bridge the gap between shipowners/managers, their sea staff and suppliers by offering a complete catering management service. It says that its considerable purchasing power means it can obtain good quality food at the keenest prices.

An indication of Garrets' purchasing power is that it supplies 7.5 million eggs annually. Those eggs are now free range, preempting an EU requirement that will take effect in 2012. Now, the company says itbis taking its healthy eating free range egg policy a stage further by offering a wider range of new free range and healthy eating products at even more ports in Europe, the U.S., Australia and Korea.

It has also started supplying ships in the Middle East, Far East, U.S. and South Africa with low fat, low sugar and low salt varieties of quality brands of mayonnaise, ketchup, and canned products including baked beans. Another part of the initiative is to supply vessels with sunflower oil instead of the more traditional vegetable oil. Sunflower oil is low in saturated fat, helping to control cholesterol levels.

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