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Hospital food can be improved only by legislation

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 19 December 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f7300
  1. Katharine Jenner, chief executive officer of Blood Pressure UK, Campaign Director for Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), and Chair of the Campaign for Better Hospital Food
  1. k.jenner{at}

As the government announces a review of hospital food, Katharine Jenner writes that only legislation can ensure that inpatients get adequate nutrition

Which of these statements are true?

  • a) Hospital food is less environmentally friendly than food served at McDonalds

  • b) Food served to children in hospitals is so unhealthy it couldn’t legally be offered in schools

  • c) Prison food is served fresher and warmer than hospital food

Unfortunately, for some hospitals all are true. This is why action is needed. Twenty years’ worth of government initiatives have failed because they rely on hospitals to voluntarily adopt food standards for patients’ meals.1 The voluntary approach is not working, and the government should set mandatory standards for hospital food without exception. This would help improve the quality, healthiness, and environmental standard of patients’ meals, and ensure that they lead by example, helping to inspire patients, visitors, and staff to eat better food outside of hospital.

Evidence shows that hospital food is not good enough.2

The government has said that as many as 50 000 people a year could be dying with malnutrition in NHS …

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