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11 April 2017

Room for improvement in hospital food, according to new research by Premier Foods

- Only half of patients, visitors and employees have positive views of hospital food and a majority of respondents feel that hospital food could better address patients’ needs
- Premier Foods has unveiled a new Hospital Solutions Guide based on exclusive research to help equip caterers with recipe ideas and practical tips to stay at the forefront of their customers’ needs 

Great strides have been made in hospital catering, according to the latest research by Premier Foods with YouGov, however results reveal there is still room for improvement. Those who have eaten either as a patient or visitor in an NHS hospital in the past five years say the food is getting better, and more than two thirds of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that there was a good choice of food available (41%) – up by 9% compared to similar research carried out in 2015. Yet less than half of NHS patients (46%), visitors (46%) and employees (43%) have positive views of hospital food highlighting there is still work to be done to ensure their needs are being catered for. 

As a result, Premier Foods has unveiled its new Hospital Solutions Guide at the Hospital Caterers Association (HCA) National Leadership and Development Forum. The guide aims to help caterers provide choices that are tasty, appetising, satisfying and suitable for their diners’ needs, whether they are a patient, visitor or staff member. Alongside a suite of new recipes based on the research, the guide provides advice on the latest changes to hospital food regulations as well as tips on catering for food allergies and special dietary requirements.  

The research revealed that one third of respondents who had eaten as a patient in an NHS hospital in the past five years wanted to see more satisfying snacks and light food options available outside of meal times. Many also wanted to see more freshly cooked food on the menu. 

Sarah Robb, Channel Marketing Manager at Premier Foods commented: “The recipes we’ve developed can be flexed to meet a range of needs and dietary requirements. This includes our new Crustless Quiche recipe which is perfect as a satisfying snack or a finger food option for elderly patients, and our McDougalls cake recipes – an ideal option for dessert or afternoon tea. The recipe uses McDougalls Carrot Cake Mix which can be cooked at a low temperature in a regeneration trolley. This method has been proven to work well in a hospital environment and is a convenient way for caterers to provide freshly baked goods to patients on the ward.” 

Maintaining the health of the workforce and encouraging a healthy diet is a major priority for the NHS. The research revealed that nearly half of staff members surveyed say they make sure they eat healthily (46%) and reducing sugar intake is a high priority, with 41% regularly checking sugar levels in products before purchasing. In addition, only 17% of staff agreed or strongly agreed that they felt satisfied after eating a hospital meal. Premier Foods has therefore focused on developing recipes for filling meals and healthy, reduced-sugar snacking options to fuel staff throughout the day such as our McDougalls Flapjack with over 50% oats and added fruit.

The research also revealed that 87% of visitors have eaten in a NHS hospital when visiting a patient, highlighting that there is a great opportunity for caterers to drive footfall among this audience. 
Sarah Robb concludes: “Along with our portfolio of quality, trusted brands, we are dedicated to providing added value to our customers and we are delighted to be bringing the guide, with such a wealth of insights, to our hospital customers. We know that there is a real appetite for insight-driven menu solutions within the foodservice industry, and our new solutions brochure aims to help hospital caterers to put insight into action to help improve their offer and meet their diners’ needs.” 

For more information, recipe inspiration and to download the Hospital Solutions Guide, visit www.premierfoodservice.co.uk 

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