The founder of a pioneering food supplierhas been awarded a medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Mohammed Ishaq, the director of the Punjab Kitchen, has received an MBE for services to innovation and the economy in Tyne and Wear.
Founded in 1996, the family business - based in Eldon Street in South Shields - has transformed the lives of patients with special dietary needs and those who have difficulty swallowing.
The company uses innovative techniques to develop a wide range of pureed meals which look and taste exactly like fully-formed food.
Starting out as a firm which supplied halal and ethnic meals to Asian communities who could not get this food in hospital, the insight into the need for a different type of food for people with dysphagia sparked off the idea behind the pureed meals.
The firm is now the largest supplier of special diet meals to the public sector feeding over 120,000 patients a week.
Mr Ishaq, 64, from Washington, said: “It has been a real honour to receive an MBE.
“I got a letter four weeks ago about it and have had to keep it under wraps until now.
“You don’t come across this type of honour very often and it is absolutely fabulous to be recognised for doing something that you love.”
He added: “We have been established for 22 years now as a company and we have grown since then.
“We moved to South Shields in 2001 and have 100 staff. We feed 120,000 people with our products across the UK.
“We are very proud to provide this unique service to the NHS.
“It makes us feel good knowing that people are getting some benefit from it.”
Mr Ishaq’s wife Yasmine is the director of the company, while his son Yaqoob is a sales manager.
The businessman is also an active member of the North East of England Chamber of Commerce, Advanced Manufacturers Forum and the Entrepreneurs Forum.
In 2012 he set up the PK Charitable Foundation.