Hospital Food Study: Outdated Kitchens and Too Much Salt


It is not without reason that hospital food has a bad reputation – a study shows that ARD Mittagsmagazin is present. Accordingly, eating is not a priority in German clinics.

By Helena Daehler and Marcel Trocoli Castro, ARD noon magazine

Hospitals have spent less money on meals for years. “The difficult financial conditions in hospitals hit kitchens particularly hard,” Karl Blum from the Deutsche Krankenhaus Institut told the ARD Mittagsmagazin,

The current study on patient care 2019, which the institute has commissioned and which the ARD Mittagsmagazin available in advance, states: Since 2005, real costs per patient and day have decreased by 9 percent after adjusting for inflation.

In 2018, hospitals spent an average of 3.84 euros per day per patient on food. In 2005 it was 4.45 euros. In the same period, however, the prices of food and personnel costs increased more.

On average, the kitchens are almost 30 years old

There is also a high investment backlog in many hospital kitchens. The hospitals hardly put any money into their own kitchens. On average, hospital kitchens are 29 years old. Only a third of the hospitals in the study state that they want to invest in the next three years.

“Kitchen doesn’t come first”

“Compared to other hospital costs, the kitchen is not the top priority,” says Blum. “That’s why the kitchens are relatively old on average.” He demands that the investment backlog in hospital kitchens be reduced.

Instead, there is a trend towards more centralization – that is, a large kitchen that supplies multiple locations. 65 percent of hospital kitchens are still operated independently. In 2005 it was 80 percent. In addition, six percent of the clinics offer frozen foods. 23 percent are cooled down and then delivered.

Salinity too high

Samples of the ARD Mittagsmagazin in a Berlin hospital were examined in the laboratory. The result: The patients do not get the food that their bodies need. Vitamins and other nutrients were insufficient, the salt content was much too high.

Nationwide, there are no uniform standards for hospital meals, and there is no quality check. The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) has developed quality standards and offers a certificate. However, implementation has so far not been mandatory at the state or federal level.

So far, only four percent of the approximately 2,000 hospitals have been certified by the DGE.

The ARD noon magazine reported on this topic on January 14, 2020 at 1:00 p.m.

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