BDA response to Sustain Report: 'Taking the Pulse of Hospital Food – A survey of NHS Hospitals, using London as a test case'23 March 2017
The British Dietetic Association’s interpretation of the data presented within the report1 is that the engagement of the test sites in London is encouraging. Clearly there is room for further development, but in the current climate of uncertainty and fiscal restraint, the progress towards the Hospital Food Standards (HFS) is good and to be welcomed. We continue to support the efforts of dietitians, hospital staff and caterers to provide food that will promote good health to their patients, visitors and staff.
However, the Association feels it is important to respond to some specific areas discussed within the report.
The British Dietetic Association (BDA), founded in 1936, is the professional association and trade union for dietitians in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is the nation’s largest organisation of food and nutrition professionals with over 8,500 members.
From an evidenced based perspective, the provision of meals from off site sources has been shown to meet and exceed all targets for menu diversity and food hygiene. All such meals are regularly and rigorously tested and audited. It is misleading to suggest that meals prepared on site are by definition better quality. Quality will depend on the quality of the ingredients and the ability of the catering team preparing the meals.
The BDA highlights that it is very difficult to supply the variety of meals required by using largely local, freshly sourced ingredients. Regardless of price implications, the public in any setting expect a range of meals and snacks that include ingredients sourced from around the world, and available throughout all seasons.
The BDA would also like to emphasise that with its associations with weight reducing diets, the term ‘healthy eating’ is not always helpful in the context of hospital catering, especially for malnourished patients. The work done by caterers and dietitians that is frequently alluded to in the Sustain report strives to ensure that the menu selections enable all patient groups as well as staff and visitors to meet their nutritional requirements in a way that is appropriate to their specific needs.
The recent report reviewing progress towards the implementation of the HFS, carried out by the Department of Health, showed good engagement, innovative ideas and a clear willingness to provide the best standard of food possible. The BDA recommends that dietitians and caterers continue to refer to and use the HFS and the documents referred to within each element of the HFS to guide their policy and strategy around nutrition and hydration.
Notes to the editor:
• Visit the BDA website at www.bda.uk.com
• Dietitians are the only nutrition professionals to be statutorily regulated, and governed by an ethical code, to ensure that they always work to the highest standard. Dietitians work in the NHS, private practice, industry, education, research, sport, media, public relations, publishing, Non-Government Organisations and government. Their advice influences food and health policy across the spectrum from government, local communities and individuals.