Prue Leith attacks ‘feeble' NHS catering reforms

02 March 2015 by
Prue Leith attacks ‘feeble' NHS catering reforms

Chef and food writer Prue Leith has branded reforms to NHS catering contracts as "feeble" and warned they will not eradicate poor quality food in hospitals.

Minimum food standards are set to be introduced to NHS catering contracts next month, but Leith accused health secretary Jeremy Hunt of ducking the issue.

Writing in the Guardian, Leith (pictured) said the Government's reforms were worth less than a "row of over-processed beans".

She claimed that the hospital food standards panel established by the health department had been undermined by inviting food manufacturers, including one of the biggest suppliers of hospital food, onto the panel.

"Food manufacturers of course have one aim only and that is to sell their products," she said.

"Asking them to advise on a healthy diet is like asking a fox to lock the chicken run."

She added: "Without monitoring and enforcement, the contracts' only purpose will be to cover the backs of NHS trusts should they ever need someone to blame for disaster."

Under the present system, the wastage level in some hospitals is reported to run to 70% of all food, with few hospitals actually cooking anything.

"All the he kitchen staff now do is reheat frozen meals and add the inevitable difficult-to-undo packages: of cutlery, sweaty squares of cheese, cheap biscuits, dabs of marge. The meals themselves are made miles away in a ¬factory from the cheapest available ingredients, delivered frozen, regenerated in the hospital and kept warm in a trolley. No wonder it's disgusting," Leith said.

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