Coleman: Hospital food 'excellent'

Coleman: Hospital food 'excellent'

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman taste tested Dunedin Hospital's patient meals this afternoon, calling it "excellent food".

The minister travelled south today to speak at the National Rural Health Conference and visit the hospital -- prompting an earlier challenge from Labour's health spokeswoman Annette King to try the hospital food.

The meals have been described as "disgusting" by one patient. 

Dr Coleman visited the hospital this afternoon and tasted bolognese with penne pasta, with pea and ham soup. 

"There was nothing wrong with the food at all," he says. 

"Quite frankly Annette King needs to spend less time in high-end restaurants and she should come down here and taste the food for herself."

He says he ate the whole meal and it was exactly the same food offered to patients. 

"I can reassure them that they're getting very good food," he says.

"It was very much the sort of food that regular working Kiwis eat everyday at home."

A new private provider has taken over the hospital contract called Compass. Patients have started posting complaints and photos of the food on Facebook, calling it "frozen gloop".

"You've never gone to hospitals for gourmet food but it absolutely has to be nutritious and appropriate for the patients," Dr Coleman says.

The food has to be held to particular standards and he was more than happy to taste the meals. If they weren't up to standard something will have to change, he says.

"This will be good Kiwi fare and I'm looking forward to tasting it," he said this morning.

Dr Coleman turned down media requests to film him trying the hospital food.

Jarrod Olliver was recently in Dunedin Hospital for six days and says he was aware of the changes to outsource the food. He says the meals he received were "shocking". 

"Absolutely disgusting," he says. 

"It's pureed mash, there's no real sustenance in there, there's no seasoning, there's no fresh vegetables, it's just pretty terrible."

He says he ended up asking kitchen staff to make him a sandwich. 

Mr Olliver wasn't the only one who was disappointed with the food. After wandering around the hospital halls he says not one person he asked was happy with the meals. 

He's concerned media weren't allowed to be there for Dr Coleman's taste test. 

"If he was an honest person he would say it's disgusting," he says. 

"Eating that food will keep you in hospital."