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NHS - the biggest food waster?

Waste on wards as patients leave 17m meals untouched - Times Online

MORE than 17 million meals are being thrown away untouched in Britain’s hospitals every year

Of the 162 million main meals produced for patients in 2004, almost 11 per cent went untouched, up from 8.8 per cent in 2002. There are more than 55,000 meals thrown away each day. About 40 per cent of patients admitted to hospital have malnutrition. More than half lose weight or become undernourished while in care because of poor-quality food, a lack of appetite and difficulty feeding themselves.

I can't find the latest figures, or how much of the meals that were "touched" are left and thrown away, but with Gordon Brown lecturing us on wasting 4 million tonnes of food a year before he went off for an eight course banquet (I hope he cleared his plate for each course, even the sushi he can't stand) it is worthwhile pointing the finger, especially as alongside all the wasted food the patients actually become malnourished.


Having spent a great deal of time visiting elderly family members in hospital, I think I know where the lions share of this waste is happening. If my own relative didn't need help with feeding, there would always be several other patients on the ward who did. I rapidly learned the hand-washing between patients drill so that I could help these patients while I was in the ward. Because no-one else was there to feed them.

Frail old folk who can't feed themselves are served with trays of food which they do want (they are hungry, and generally say the food is nice ), but can't reach, or can't sit themselves up to eat it, or their hands are too disabled with arthritis to handle the utensils. Also folk with parkinson's and essential tremor need someone with a steady hand to feed them.

So the food is brought, and taken away later untouched.

It's risible.

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