The Hospital Caterers Association and (HCA) and the British Dietetic Association (BDA) have jointly responded to Animal Aid after the animal rights group called for processed red meat to be banned from patient menus.
Animal Aid posted a report calling for the removal of processed red meat from patient menus following its own Freedom of Information request to every NHS trust and board in the UK. The animal rights group cites research, which suggests red meat is increasingly linked to the increase in numbers of bowel cancer cases.
Now the HCA and BDA have voiced their concerns about Animal Aid’s call to replace processed red meat with plant-based meals instead. In a joint statement they say that the evidence linking health issues to red meat is inconsistent and varies in quality.
HCA national chair Phil Shelley said: “The nutritional needs of patients in hospital vary greatly and what a patient feels they can eat can depend on both their condition and treatment.
“When providing food in hospital we have to take many factors into account including different age groups, different expectations and many different dietary requirements, some of which are complex.”
The HCA and BDA both make the point that they are not necessarily promoting the use of processed meat, they simply want to ensure patients eat well and achieve optimum health and well being.
Helen Ream, chair of the BDA’s food services group, added: “Up to 25% of patients are admitted to hospital at risk of malnutrition and it is crucial that these patients are provided with a meal that tempts them to eat, and is higher in energy (calories).
“As part of this it’s important to offer a variety of menu options that will hopefully encourage them to eat, as eating something is better than eating nothing at all.”