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Hospital Caterers Association responds to listeria outbreak

The Hospital Caterers Association (HCA) has welcomed the call for an investigation into the listeria outbreak, which has been linked to sandwiches supplied by The Good Food Chain.

On 17 June, health secretary Matt Hancock, called for a ‘root and branch’ review of hospital food. He advised parliament the government would be working with the HCA to; “build progress in three vital areas.” The areas he identified are; eliminating junk food from hospitals, improving nutrition and ensuring healthier choices are available across the NHS.

Public Health England (PHE) announced on 17 June, that the Good Food Chain supplied affected product lines to 43 NHS Trusts and one independent provider. Although, they do stress the public health risk is still low.

Nine cases have been reported at NHS trusts, with five of those being fatal according to PHE.

Brian Robb, vice chair, HCA said: “The Hospital Caterers Association warmly welcomes this inclusion and very much looks forward to addressing what we see as key failings in the current cold food chain audit process. We would further like to echo the Health Secretary’s comments that there should be “severe consequences” if any evidence of wrongdoing by suppliers is found and call upon all hospital food suppliers to urgently review their current testing and safety procedures.

“As a voluntary organisation as old as the NHS itself, and with more than 600 members, our goal is to promote, develop and improve standards in hospital catering. Therefore, the association would not only like the inquiry to review external supply chain processes but also to include a review of current systems within hospitals at ward level.”

He added: “Patient safety is the HCA’s absolute highest priority and we can all play a part in delivering it. The HCA has produced several documents to support hospital caterers including a Good Practise Guide.

“In the meantime, we ask all caterers and ward staff to remind hospital visitors, whilst they are very welcome to bring in snacks for patients such as pre-wrapped cakes, biscuits and fruit, they must not bring on to the wards takeaways, cooked rice, cooked meats, meat products, fish products and shell eggs.”

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