CHINA> National
Military cooks up new menu for soldiers
By Cui Xiaohuo (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-06-15 07:41

The military said Sunday it wants a richer protein diet for its troops nationwide ahead of the 60th anniversary on Oct 1 commemorating the founding of the People's Republic of China.

The protein project, which will revamp the menu for the 2.3 million servicemen and women of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) from July 1, will feature a sharp increase of more than 40 percent in meat and another 20 percent in overall calories.

The move is aimed at bringing the PLA's "catering capability" closer to that of other developed nations, said analysts.

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Despite costing around one billion yuan ($146 million) a year, experts believe the diet enjoyed by soldiers in the Chinese military still lags behind the nutritional programs offered by the United States and Russian armed forces for diversity and protein levels.

Even the US Army's compact "meals ready-to-eat for individuals", also known as MRI, have around 1,300 calories each - a Chinese soldier would have to eat a full meal of six dishes to consume the same amount of energy.

"It's easy to see the difference," a retired navy marine told China Daily Sunday.

The revised catering guidelines will be drawn up by the General Department of Logistics, which is responsible for the welfare of PLA servicemen and women. It will address the lack of diversity in a Chinese soldier's diet by adding more seafood and milk to the menu, the department said.

It has become common practice for the PLA to improve catering in recent years, with the last time in 2007.

In another move, the military has also boosted the salaries of its servicemen and women. Low-level soldiers and officers received as much as 50 percent extra in the pay reform, around 4,000 yuan a month.