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Iron feast Food for Ireland's prison population expected to cost taxpayer over €1.5 million next year

The shopping list for the state’s prison population, which currently stands at around 3,700, includes 100,928 scones and 29,189 brack fruitcakes, as well as 21,659kg of bananas

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The cost of fresh fruit and vegetables for the prison population is expected to amount to just over €1.1 million per year (stock photo)

The cost of fresh fruit and vegetables for the prison population is expected to amount to just over €1.1 million per year (stock photo)

The cost of fresh fruit and vegetables for the prison population is expected to amount to just over €1.1 million per year (stock photo)

Hungry inmates are expected to consume 352 tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables next year, along with 254 tonnes of bread products, at a cost to the taxpayer of more than €1.5 million.

The shopping list for the state’s prison population, which currently stands at around 3,700, includes 100,928 scones and 29,189 brack fruitcakes, as well as 21,659kg of bananas.

The list is based on consumption recorded in 2019 and has been provided by the Irish Prison Service (IPS) as an indication of future requirements as it seeks tenders for the supply of food products for the next four years.

It estimates that 76,608 burger buns will be consumed by prisoners in each of those years, along with 44,714 soft bread rolls and 5,218 wholemeal soda breads. The annual spend on bread products is expected to be €420,000 excluding VAT.

Fruit and vegetables on the IPS shopping list for next year include 22,595kg of eating apples, 220kg of cooking apples, 177,466kg of prepared potatoes, and 180kg of brussels sprouts.

Inmates are also expected to consume 10,326kg of prepared carrots, 44kg of garlic, 3,117kg of mushrooms, and 25,501kg of onions. Some 17,114kg of fresh tomatoes, 22,895kg of oranges, and 335kg of courgettes will also be required.

The cost of fresh fruit and vegetables for the prison population is expected to amount to just over €1.1 million per year, around €470,000 of which relates to detention centres in the Dublin region.

Portlaoise Prison and Midlands Prison are expected to account for €345,000 of the annual expenditure, while €190,000 will be spent on fruit and veg for inmates in Cork and Limerick prisons. Castlerea Prison and Loughan House account for the remaining €100,000.

The IPS has specified that delivery boxes must comply with size and weight restrictions to ensure that they can be screened by X-ray scanner before entering prison facilities.

Delivery personnel will also be prohibited from bringing phones, laptops, tablets, SIM cards or other phone-related paraphernalia into detention centres, according to the tender documents.

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In terms of quality assurance, it is specified that fruit and vegetables must be “not rotten” and “practically free from pests”, as well as “free from abnormal taste, odour and foreign matter”.

Meanwhile, the flavour of bread products delivered to prisons must be “acceptable” and these must also be free from “abnormal odour and foreign matter”. They should be suitable for diabetics, halal diets, kosher diets, and vegetarian diets.

Prospective contractors have until June 29 to respond to the IPS tender.

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