The BDA’s Nutrition and Hydration Digest is a fundamental resource for all involved in the provision of food and drink services in healthcare. It is now part of the National standards for healthcare food and drink, meaning that all NHS Trusts in England must comply with the nutrition standards outlined in the Digest as part of the legally binding NHS standard contract. The Digest provides expert knowledge and support for professionals working in the healthcare food service sector.

The review of The Nutrition and Hydration Digest for the third edition commenced in February 2021 with the formation of a working group of 35 dietitians and caterers from across the UK.

The working group came together to review and update the Digest to ensure it reflected recent nutritional evidence and the current operational challenges in healthcare food service. This included a stakeholder consultation event in July 2021 and a British Dietetic Association (BDA) member poll in May 2022 to ensure that any considered changes were warranted and achievable.

Another aim of the review was to improve the layout of the document, ensuring its workability as a reference guide with better online accessibility and links to key information. Some of the main updates for the third edition include:

  • A new chapter on sustainability
  • Updates to the nutritional standards to meet the latest evidence, including a higher protein target and menu code
  • Business case guidance to support the implementation of new food service dietitian roles
  • Alignment with the new National standards for healthcare food and drink

The new edition of the Digest has seen further legislative and best practice developments in healthcare food service since the previous edition. It is recognised that positive changes are gaining momentum in this sector and further updates are likely to occur prior to the next review. To ensure the Digest is kept as up to date as possible, a new online version has been published. We encourage our readers to access the live document rather than using a hard copy, wherever possible (also in support of our sustainable focus!).

We want to thank our colleagues for all their hard work on this document and hope readers will appreciate the input from such a wide range of specialists and professionals, knowledgeable in the field of healthcare food service dietetics.

Megan Hughes and Elise Kelly

Co-Chairs of the Digest Review Working Group

Produced by the Food Services Specialist Group in consultation with the British Dietetic Association.

© 2023 BDA Food Services Specialist Group

3rd Edition

Date of Issue: June 2023

Date of Review: June 2028

Version 1