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Dr. David Barling
City University London
Centre for Food Policy
Northampton Square
London EC1V 0HB
United Kingdom
Tel.: +44 020 7040 5060
E-Mail: d.barling(at)

Better Hospital Food, UK

Logo Better Hospital Food

  • Country: UK
  • Foodlinks theme: Public food procurement
  • Year started: 2012

Targets & measures

The Campaign for Better Hospital Food represents a coalition of organisations calling on the UK government to introduce mandatory nutritional, environmental and ethical standards for food served to patients in National Health Service (NHS) hospitals in England.

The campaign says: "With more than 30 million hospital meals left uneaten in England each year, and many patients relying on their families to bring them food, we say enough is enough. It’s time for compulsory hospital food standards."

These standards would ensure that hospital food:

  • promotes health, by reducing saturated fat, sugar and salt, and ensuring it meets recommended dietary guidelines for patients;
  • protects the environment, by increasing the amount of food which is sustainably grown (such as organic), using less oil and water, enhancing the soil and biodiversity, and resulting in fewer greenhouse-gas-emissions (GHGs); and
  • supports ethical food and farming practices e.g. by specifying animal welfare standards and guaranteeing that farmers who produce hospital food get fair pay and have safe working conditions.

Interaction and knowledge brokering activities

On 1 November, 2012,  88 national organisations supported the campaign. These include civil society groups (rural issues, food waste, animal welfare, sustainability issues etc.), national professional bodies (health and nutrition, teachers etc.), hospitals, public health, universities.
The campaign is also being backed by a national newspaper.
The campaign has set up a Hospital Food Forum where all stakeholders meet up and there is a website.

Why are hospital food standards needed?

While a handful of hospitals in England have introduced hospital food standards to improve patients’ meals, the campaign argues that the UK government’s reliance on voluntary initiatives to encourage the adoption of food standards at all hospitals has failed.

At the same time, the English, Welsh and Scottish Governments have improved the food served at other public institutions by requiring it to meet mandatory standards. In the face of clear evidence that voluntary initiatives have failed and that setting food standards works, the campaign believes that mandatory standards for hospital food in England are now urgently needed.

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