Some hospital food is so unhealthy that it wouldn’t even be served up in prisons, a campaigner has said.
Katharine Jenner, chairwoman of the Campaign for Better Hospital Food, claims the Government’s approach to food in hospitals is simply not working.
She is therefore calling for legally binding standards to be brought in, just like those that apply to food dished out to prisoners across the country.
Government figures suggest as many as 50,000 people a year could be dying with malnutrition in NHS hospitals in England, while there is also evidence to suggest that many hospital meals contain more salt than a Big Mac from McDonald’s.
‘Several nutritional and environmental standards apply to food served in Government departments and prisons,’ said Ms Jenner, writing online in the British Medical Journal.
‘So why are there no mandatory standards in English hospitals?
‘I am not asking for standards that you would find only in a Michelin-starred restaurant; rather, healthier and more nutritious food with less salt and saturated fat that is sustainable, with higher animal welfare standards, and fair trade.’
Recent research by the Campaign for Better Hospital Food found that three out of every four hospital meals would qualify for a red light for fat under the Food Standards Agency’s traffic light system, plus 15 out of 25 meals contained more salt than a Big Mac.
Ms Jenner declared Government support had not been forthcoming for the Hospital Food Bill introduced into the House of Lords, which would require the Government to convene a body of experts to draft legally binding food standards for hospitals.
She even went as far to add that ‘prison food is served fresher and warmer than hospital food’.
In response, health minister Dan Poulter has admitted that there is room for improvement when it comes to hospital food.
‘There are many fantastic examples of really good food across our NHS thanks to forward-thinking and innovative staff, but we know there is too much variation across the country,’ he said.
‘We have implemented a new inspection programme – led by patients – to help raise standards. We have also asked Diane Jeffery, chair of Age UK, to head up our food standards panel and look at how to improve standards of hospital food right across the NHS.’