The Independent Review of NHS Hospital Food was announced by Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock following a listeriosis outbreak in 2019.
The final report, published today, includes a number of recommendations to improve food safety, based largely on evidence provided by the FSA. These recommendations include having dedicated food safety specialists in each trust, hospitals implementing robust food safety management systems, and a compulsory function to report concerns across the entire hospital food chain. Crucially, NHS Trusts must also recognise that they are food business operators and responsible for ensuring that the food they provide is safe.
Emily Miles, Chief Executive of the Food Standards Agency, said:
‘We have seen the devastating consequences that foodborne disease outbreaks can have, and we welcome the recommendations to improve food safety in this report.
‘It is vitally important that all NHS Trusts recognise their legal responsibilities to ensure the food they sell and serve is safe to eat.
‘We look forward to supporting the delivery group to see these recommendations implemented in hospitals across England.’
The review panel was chaired by the former head of the Hospital Caterers Association and catering lead for Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, Philip Shelley, with restaurateur and celebrity chef Prue Leith acting as an independent adviser. Panel members included the FSA, Public Health England, representatives from the NHS and a number of catering and food industry associations. The review considered many different aspects of hospital food, and made recommendations on improving choice, nutritional value and minimising food waste.
To coincide with the publication of the report, the FSA has today published its evidence package which was used to inform the panel’s discussions on food safety. The evidence sets out key findings from detailed reviews of previous outbreaks of foodborne illness in hospitals and outlines the FSA’s advice on actions that should be taken to enhance food safety.