Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

You call that falafel? Hummus be joking

The hospital says the "Mediterranean" dish could possibly be a pureed meal. Photo / Supplied
The hospital says the "Mediterranean" dish could possibly be a pureed meal. Photo / Supplied

A patient who was served a "Mediterranean" meal at Auckland City Hospital struggled to look at the dish, let alone taste it.

The woman's son, who asked not to be named, sent a photo of the offending meal to the Herald, and said it was served to his mother in January.

"It was labelled 'Mediterranean falafel and hummus'. My mother could not even taste it or even look at it. Who would?

"Nobody expected restaurant quality at all, and I appreciate the volume and pressure [hospital staff] are under ... but this ... to an already sick patient."

On Friday the Herald reported on another Auckland City Hospital patient who could stomach only one mouthful of a parsley omelette which was described as resembling a block of mouldy cheese.

The Auckland District Health Board's manager of nutrition services, Penny King, said hospital cooks carefully followed menu standards written for all meals.

She said there was no Mediterranean meal choice.

"The photo appears to show a pureed meal.

"We regularly prepare pureed food for patients who are unable to swallow easily.

"If this patient did not require a pureed meal it is possible there was a mix-up on this occasion ... we are sorry to hear that one of our patients found [her] food unappetising."

Patients with concerns about their food were encouraged to discuss the problem with their nurse, who could order a more appropriate meal.

Alternatively, patients could ask to speak to a hospital dietician and have a diet plan tailored to their needs, Ms King said.

Patients were surveyed twice a year about hospital meals and their views were considered when designing future menus.

"Each day ADHB serves about 3000 meals for patients with up to 90 different combinations of dietary requirements.

"We do receive complaints from time to time ... but not to such an extent that we have felt it necessary to dramatically change the menu."

- NZ Herald

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