NHS supplier insists frozen food is safest

THE biggest supplier of hot food to the NHS has spoken out against demands for freshly prepared meals in hospitals in the wake of the listeria outbreak, and claimed safety concerns are a “myth”.

Apetito, a private caterer, provides around a fifth of all hot meals served in hospitals in England, Scotland and Wales, preparing them at a factory in Wiltshire before they are frozen, then delivered across the country.

Questions have been raised about the NHS’s reliance on mass-produced food since a listeria outbreak in May, linked to pre-packed sandwiches and salads, killed five patients.

Paul Freeston, Apetito’s chief executive, said mass-produced frozen food was safer because it could be tested for bacteria before it was served.

“There’s a myth that food would be much better if it’s made in a hospital by a chef,” he said. “In a big hospital, the kitchen can be half a mile from some of the wards. By the time the food has got to the ward, it has deteriorated.”

Grahame White