NUMBER 3 MAY/JUNE NHS hospital catering is one of the largest kitchens can achieve was given earlier this catering organizations in the country, if not year when an NHS facility, the Royal in Europe. It employs approximately 23,000 Victoria, Blackpool, won the Ecolab Hygiene Award in competition with major flagships catering staff in 1,700 units and provides 89 of the commercial catering industry. million meals a year to patients, NHS staff and visitors, costing over £223 million. NHS catering does not always receive a PIONEERING good press. This may be because there are a In many respects NHS hospital catering number of problems which are peculiar to pioneers developments for the mass catering the NHS caterer. The scale of the operation industry. The large-scale development of is clearly one of these. They also face cook-chill catering for patient feeding is one distribution difficulties in getting the food to such example. In January this year the the patient at the temperatures required by Richmond Committee on the Microbiological the Food Hygiene (Amendment) Regulations Safety of Food commended the Health and in a condition acceptable to the patient. Service Hygiene Manual, used by the NHS Many wards can be located up to half-a-mile since 1987, for use by the catering industry from the central kitchen or ten or more generally, and local authority food floors above. An additional dimension not enforcement agencies, as a basis for experienced in commercial catering is that improving hygiene standards throughout the food service to patients in hospitals is usually industry. handled by staff who are not within the caterer's jurisdiction. The caterer must rely DIET AND HEALTH on porters, domestic staff and nurses to NHS caterers are also fully aware of the ensure that food is served promptly and, in strong links between diet and health. To this the case of cook-chill foods, regenerated at end they work in consultation with dietitians ward level, to the required temperature. and others to ensure that they provide food Food hygiene standards and the avoidance which is both tasty and nutritious. The of food poisoning are particularly important Department of Health's Recipe File, in hospital catering, given that food is being published in 1988, gives a wide variety of provided for vulnerable groups who are suggested dishes including low-fat, vegetarian, already ill. Since the removal of Crown regional and cultural choices to stimulate Immunity from hospital kitchens in 1987 experimentation locally, which can also be there are clear indications of improved included in a balanced diet. standards. A recent Audit Commission Hospital caterers accept that there is no Report, Environmental Health Survey of room for complacency. The need to produce Food Premises, indicated that only seven out nutritious, appealing food in hygienic of every 100 hospitals are regarded as having conditions, while responding to recent a high risk of food contamination, and while changes in the management of the health not perfect this figure is significantly lower service, provides a challenge for every than other types of catering establishments. hospital caterer, but one that when met Food-poisoning outbreaks within the NHS provides a valuable contribution to patients' have dropped from 33 in 1986 to 17 in 1989. overall impression of their hospital stay and Recognition of the standard that hospital their recovery.
Nutrition & Food Science – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 1, 1992
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