7/18/12

Outsourced hospital food fails the health test

Researchers report that the meals served at three Ontario hospitals are too high in salt.

They analyzed 84 standard menus for regular, diabetic and sodium-restricted diets at three hospitals in Ontario between 2010 and 2011. "We demonstrated that hospital patient menus contain excessive levels of sodium," the study's authors concluded.

Among the regular menus, 86 per cent exceeded the tolerable upper level of 2,300 milligrams per day, about a teaspoon of salt.

"I think the major solutions are just the government setting standards, hospitals implementing those standards and then the food industry certainly lowering sodium levels in the foods that they produce," University of Toronto researcher and dietician Jo-An Arcand told the CBC.

The CBC adds that earlier studies of sodium levels in long-term care facilities found those meals may contain up to 4,390 milligrams per day.

All of the hospitals studied used rethermalization technologies and menus containing mostly outsourced prepared foods.

Hospitals and other public institutions increasingly serve prepared foods instead of making them from scratch, but more and more there is a backlash from the public demanding local, fresh and nutritious food.

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