According to 365JP, the company, which came second in the tender competition to provide food packages to the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF), the packs now being given to EDF members do not meet the clearly specified requirements. However, the Estonian Center for Defense Investment (RKIK) said that the terms of the tender have not been violated.
This year, food packages obtained under a new four-year public procurement contract, which are supposed to contain between 1,200 and 1,600 kilocalories per meal, have been put on the menu for of members of the EDF.
However, according to 365JP, the company that finished as runner-up in the tender competition to produce the food packages, the winning bidder was required to ensure all the packs contain the specified amounts of each item. After opening a total of 28 EDF food packages, it was revealed that some of the required food items were missing.
"The breakfasts are missing the chewing gum. The chewing gum is compulsory, long with a snack. Two components are missing from the pack," said Ulvar Järvepera, member of 365JP's board.
Agne Silde, portfolio manager for catering services at the Estonian Center for Defense Investment, which organized of the tender, said the contents of the food packs had been altered in response to feedback from the EDF.
"It may be the case that one breakfast includes a snack and another does not. But, there is no such situation in which someone has no snack in their packs for the rest of the day," Silde said. She also said, that the terms of the tender would not be violated.
The label on the packet must match its contents. "If we find any shortcomings there, we will penalize any potential breaches (of the tender) by the supplying partner. However, as a matter of principle, the labels have to match, and we ourselves are confirming today that the labels do match the contents," said Silde.
Järvepera also said, that the food being served to EDF members contains fewer calories than required.
"We didn't even have to open the packages. The packet contains less calories than actually required. And when we added up the individual components of the packet, they still did not correspond to what is written on the packet at the moment," Järvepera said.
"Some of the packs do have maybe about 60 kilocalories (kcals) less than 1,200, however, that's because of the feedback, and if we change a product in the ration packs for one that has a slightly lower calorific value, then some of the packs may have a lower calorific value (overall)," said Silde.
"Basically yes, we can change products and we have to make sure that our daily calorific values are in line with the requirements," she added.
"So, let's say, for the next two meals, it is out of the question for them to have less calories than the requirement," Silde explained.
Soldiers require an intake of around 3,600 kcals of energy per day. The supplier of the food packs, Kommivabrik, said that according to the terms of the procurement contract, they are unable to provide comments on the issue.
The confusion about the food packages for EDF soldiers was first made public by Estonian daily newspaper Õhtuleht, with the full story available (in Estonian) here.
Editor: Michael Cole