Hospital shows imported food is a waste of money

Switching from imported food to buying fresh British produce has allowed one hospital trust to slash meat costs by 20%.

The Countess Of Chester hospital’s approach to buying food emerged in Farmers Weekly‘s in-depth survey of more than 200 British hospitals.

The trust, which spends £1m a year on food – 92% of it from the UK – says it is committed to serving patients high-quality meals bought locally.

Its policy debunks the myth that sourcing local food is expensive, as its average food spend a patient a day is just £2.76 – one of the lowest spends uncovered in our investigation.

Main food items such as fresh meat, bread, dairy products, fruit, vegetables and frozen and chilled items are all sourced locally.

Craig Hough, head of catering, says: “The catering department at Countess puts quality and best- value ingredients first and we buy as much fresh food as possible on a daily basis.

Fresh meat is sourced from Noel Chadwick, an established family butchers with its own private EU-approved abattoir based in Wigan, Lancashire.

Sourcing fresh meat, rather than frozen or poorer quality meat, has helped the trust to cut its meat bill by 20%. Fresh meat uses less fuel, water and cooks quicker.

Bread is delivered fresh from Roberts Bakery in Northwich, Cheshire, six days a week.

“They make all their own bread using quality ingredients. We use it throughout our department and in our own sandwich production unit,” says Mr Hough.

Fresh fruit, vegetables and milk are sourced from Bradford-based Swithenbank Foods and supplied six days a week. The trust sources 85% of its vegetables from the UK in the summer and 65% in the winter.

Frozen and chilled food is sourced from UK food wholesalers Brake Brothers quality products. By volume, 95% of the trust’s food supplied frozen is British.

Mr Hough added: “We get ‘excellent’ in all our PEAT [Patient Environment Action Team] inspections for food we supply to patients.”

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