The sign says "enjoy your meal" but that was the last thing one patient at Auckland City Hospital was able to do after being served an omelette resembling a block of mouldy cheese.
The patient was so disgusted by her parsley omelette that she could only stomach one mouthful.
The woman, in hospital for surgery and whom the Herald has agreed not to identify, was served the meal on Monday.
She showed her horrified friend, Andrea Jacobsen, a picture of her lunch.
"It looked like a block of mouldy blue cheese ... It doesn't look nutritious at all. You'd have to be pretty hungry to eat that," she said.
Ms Jacobsen, of Herne Bay, said her friend said the meal seemed as though it had been baked in a mould because it was all firm.
"She said it tasted watery, like it had been made with powdered eggs or something."
The Auckland District Health Board's manager of nutritional services, Penny King, said the meal was made with fresh eggs and fresh milk "with appropriate seasonings".
"Egg dishes can fall apart if over cooked and perhaps that is what caused this patient's meal to look so unattractive."
Ms King said they were sorry to hear the patient found her meal unpalatable. Anyone with concerns about their meals should discuss the problem with their nurse, who can order a more appropriate new meal.
The ADHB has written menu standards for all hospital meals and the cooks all follow the recipes carefully, she said.
Auckland clinical nutritionist Linda Outhwaite said fresh eggs were an important food to include in a diet for a healing body.
"Eggs are a good source of protein which is essential for healing - especially during illness, after surgery, when recovering from blood loss, burns or injuries in order to regenerate the body's cells and tissues," she said.
Each day ADHB serves about 3000 meals for patients.