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Solent Hospital aiming to reduce food waste by introducing blue crockery

29th Apr 2024 - 06:00
Solent Hospital aiming to reduce food waste by introducing blue crockery
Coloured crockery will be introduced at Solent’s community hospitals after trials on two rehab wards at Royal South Hants Hospital in Southampton showed it cut food waste by 20%.

During the first four weeks of the trial, the catering staff served their usual dishes on white crockery. For the second four weeks, catering staff served the same food and portion sizes but this time using cornflower blue plates and bowls.

Within days, there was a noticeable improvement in the number of patients finishing their meals. At the end of the eight-week trial, monitored by NHS England, there had been a 20.6% decrease in plate waste and an increase of 14% in the number of empty plates.

HCA chair Iain Robertson, who has led catering operations at Solent NHS Trust for the past five years, said: “We were blown away by these statistics due to the nutritional impact this will have on our patients, along with the improved patient experience. Putting it simply, if patients are better nourished, they recover quicker and get home sooner.  

“The research is based on the theory that coloured crockery makes food look more attractive and prompts the appetite. It is such an easy change to make but the result is incredible. If hospitals across the country follow suit, the outcome could be staggering.”

As a result of the trials success, all ward crockery at Solent’s community hospitals will become blue within a matter of days. Blue was chosen at Solent as there are no naturally blue coloured foods meaning that the colour helps pale foods like chicken, mashed potato and porridge stand out.

Plate waste, food left uneaten by patients, was already low at Solent’s community hospitals following a change in menus, the introduction of electronic meal ordering and new methods of food waste monitoring.

The blue crockery will be rolled out to community wards at the Royal South Hants Hospital and Western Community Hospital in Southampton, along with St Mary’s Community Health Campus in Portsmouth, at the start of May.

Written by
Edward Waddell