Animal welfare campaigners hit out at meals served to Derby hospital patients
MEALS served at Derby's hospitals have been criticised by campaigners – who said they were concerned about the welfare of animals reared for them.
The city's hospital trust is among dozens of NHS organisations across the country highlighted by the RSPCA and the national Campaign for Better Hospital Food group.
It said it had completed a survey which showed that most eggs, chicken and pork served in hospitals in England were produced from animals "reared in only basic welfare conditions".
And, according to its figures, 1% of eggs served at the Royal Derby Hospital and London Road Community Hospital are "cage-free" – either barn, free-range or organic.
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The results also showed that no chicken and pork served at both hospitals met "Freedom Food standards".
Campaigners said these standards were measured by the RSPCA when they visited animals on farms and inspected welfare conditions covering "all aspects of their lives".
The figures also show that, nationally, seven out of 10 eggs dished out by hospitals are laid by caged hens, while 86% of chicken and 80% of pork was not from farms which meet RSPCA welfare standards.
And campaigners said eight out of 10 hospitals across the country did not serve any chicken meeting RSPCA welfare standards, three-quarters did not serve pork at that standard and more than 50% did not serve any cage-free eggs.
David Bowles, head of public affairs at the RSPCA, said: "It is strange that, just when they are at your weakest, patients are served food which may not be to their taste and can be from animals kept under intensive conditions.
"Even hospitals serving food made from free-range eggs in their coffee shops and cafeterias are still delivering food made with cage eggs to patients. We support the idea of having standards for hospital food."
And Alex Jackson, co-ordinator of the Campaign for Better Hospital Food, said: "It's disgraceful for the taxpayer to pay for hospital food which causes misery to animals.
"The Government must introduce mandatory higher animal welfare standards for all hospital food."
A spokeswoman for Derby's hospitals said: "We have a contract with ISS Facility Services Healthcare, which purchases all the food used by the catering departments in Derby's hospitals, in accordance with standard NHS catering service contract requirements.
"All the eggs purchased are British Lion branded. Some of the chicken and pork used in our catering is British Red Tractor approved."