Hospital food so bad that patients' families bring in picnics, reveals chef Darina Allen
Top chef Darina Allen said that it is not acceptable that relatives are bringing 'picnics' in to hospital so their loved ones can eat healthily.
The Ballymaloe guru said that people tell her how they need to bring in nutritious food when visiting hospital because the food quality is poor.
Allen (67) said that the Government must increase the budget for hospitals for catering, and it's time for menus to change.
"It needs to be looked on as something important, as a priority, that good food is essential," Allen told the Herald.
"There has to be an understanding, an appreciation and acknowledgment that this is something of huge importance."
"How crazy is it to be giving people food that is not going to make them better?
"In some cases, it's possible that it would make them feel far worse.
"A lot of people if you talk to them, they actually bring up picnics to their family or whoever it is in hospital," she added.
Allen is one of the food experts who will take to the stage to discuss 'Hospital Food in Ireland' at the biggest gathering of 'foodies' in Ireland GIY's Grow Fest, which takes place in Waterford city this weekend.
The panel will discuss 'Hospital Food - It's enough to make you sick' at 2pm tomorrow at the Grow tent in the centre of Waterford city.
Allen said that it is a subject that she has been interested in for years.
"I have talked to some catering staff that are so dispirited, they hate what they are putting out," she said.
"They would love to actually be able to have the opportunity to do something better.
"They know that people don't like the food but they are trapped into a system."
Allen would like to see changes in the procurement.
"It ought to be possible to be able to buy your potatoes from one person and your carrots from somebody else," she said.
"Of course, it's a bit more work, but even if a smaller percentage of the food was actually sourced locally and made from scratch it would make a difference."
She said that health workers also need good quality food for strength and energy to help them through long hours.
One nurse told Allen that the amount of food that wasscraped off plates and going into the bin was in excess of 50pc.
"That means 50pc of the money that is spent is going straight out into the bin again," she said.