NHS trials new healthy food options at select hospitals in move backed by rural campaigners
The future of hospital food? Delicious dishes such as this pan-fried pheasant could be coming to a ward near you
Hospital food doesn’t have the greatest of reputations, which makes a new addition to NHS menus particularly mouthwatering.
Game is set to be served to patients at a number of hospitals around the country as part of a trial scheme to broaden the choice of healthy dishes.
These will include meals prepared using pheasant, partridge and venison.
British Game Assurance (BGA), which has launched the trial, says game meat has a number of nutritional benefits for patients.
As well as being nutritionally better than other meats it is higher in selenium – which is thought to reduce the risk of certain cancers, protect against heart disease and boost the immune system.
The BGA said tests have also shown it is more palatable for people suffering from Dysphagia, which causes difficulty with swallowing.
‘Nutritious and affordable’
“Pheasant, partridge and venison are being snapped up by hospital caterers as a nutritious and affordable addition to patient meals,” said the BGA. “We have been working with various organisations to promote this healthy, sustainable protein and the NHS was a natural fit.”
Liam Stokes, CEO of British Game Assurance, told The Telegraph: “Game is very high-quality meat, it is high-protein, low-fat and has an excellent micronutrient profile, so is a good fit for NHS patients. The game the NHS will be trialling will be sourced from estates that are both lead-free and assured by British Game Assurance, which is the gold standard of sustainable game procurement.”
There are at least five hospitals understood to be preparing to trial game dishes under the scheme, with new menus set to be rolled out in the coming weeks.
As well as being nutritionally better than other meats, game is also thought to reduce the risk of certain cancers
Those approached to take part include Sheffield Teaching Hospital, Ashford and St Peters, Northern Care Alliance, the Royal Free in north London, Stockport NHS Foundation Trust and Darlington Memorial Hospital.
Mr Stokes added: “We have been helping the NHS develop recipes that will not only be healthy and sustainable, but will provide patients with a tasty and interesting option.”
The BGA is also planning to work with the Ministry of Defence to supply game for meals for the country’s armed forces personnel.
Low in fat and cholesterol, game meat is prized as one of the healthiest meats available. It is also rich in Omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, both of which help lower cholesterol levels.
The scheme to serve dishes such as venison stew and roast partridge to hospital patients has won the backing of farming and rural groups.
Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance said: “This is a win for hospital patients who are able to access game, as well as it being another extension of the game market.
“Game shooting provides a whole range of benefits from conservation of the countryside, to its huge social and economic contribution to rural communities and, of course, healthy and nutritious game products.”