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Blogs / 19.10.2021

The key to cutting food waste in inpatient healthcare

When a patient doesn’t eat their meal, it’s worrying, because they’re not getting the nutrition they need to get better quickly. But it also rings alarm bells for any hospital trying to reduce its levels of food waste on sustainability and cost grounds.

The years of scraping plates into bins and forgetting about it have gone. With the NHS 2030 vision of achieving net zero carbon emissions high on everyone’s agenda, how to reduce food waste is a very real challenge for hospital executives. And there are good financial reasons to address it right now, too. According to the NHS Hospital Food Review, food waste in UK healthcare costs £230 million annually - a staggering 39% of the total food budget. Food in the bin is valuable budget down the drain. Budget that’s badly needed elsewhere.

The shocking reality is that, while many hospitals record levels of food waste under 10%, the true picture is that over 60% is actually being wasted, costing an eye-opening 22p of every meal.

It’s time to take a good look at your food provision, to focus in on the factors that can have an impact on whether a patient clears their plate. How does your foodservice measure up?

  • Can you provide healthy and tasty meals whenever a patient feels like eating? Not all patients will be on the ward at standard mealtimes, so you can end up wasting food by over-catering – and yet they’ll be hungry when they come back and might miss out.
  • Can you match your portion sizes to your patient’s appetite? Being able to offer smaller portions, or even finger food that’s easy to nibble on, can boost intake and minimise waste.
  • Can you offer a wide enough range of menu choices to tempt the most reluctant of appetites? If patients feel ‘forced’ to choose something they don’t really want, your wastage will go up.
  • Do your meals look fresh and appetising, to encourage patients to eat? Over cooked, kept-warm food does nothing to encourage a clean plate.

The good news is that moving to our Steamplicity cook-serve ward-based foodservice system solves all these issues and gives you the power to cut food waste levels to below 2.5%. When the Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust moved from a traditional cook operation to using Steamplicity in its inpatient hospital services, it found food waste levels reduced from 4% to 2.5%.

Steamplicity is a steam cooking system that produces quality meals in minutes so you can cook exactly the right number of meals for the patients on your ward. It delivers high quality food to order, so meals are ready whenever your patient needs them.

We’ve designed our Steamplicity range to tempt reluctant appetites with an à la carte restaurant-style menu that includes over 30 hot meals, developed by our specialist chefs and dieticians. It includes smaller portions for smaller appetites and finger food options to encourage people living with dementia to enjoy their meals. And the bottom line is, because the steaming keeps the maximum amount of valuable nutrients in the food, preserving colour and texture, the meals you’re serving look and taste better – and are more likely to be eaten.

Why not explore what Steamplicity could offer your inpatient setting? Get in touch to arrange a time to talk through the options with one of our experts.

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