Hospital food could lack nutritional value

October 18, 2006

Montclair, NJ - October 18, 2006 -- Substantial nutrient loss in food occurs in hospital foodservice operations, according to research recently published in the Journal of Foodservice. The study quantifies how much Vitamin C, as a marker of nutrient quality, is retained at various stages of processing at two New Jersey hospitals.

The nutrient quality of Vitamin C was significantly reduced as a food sample progressed to patients - by as much as 86% at a hospital in an inner-city neighborhood. Since many nutrients, including Vitamin C, degrade at high temperatures, this loss may be result from food being heated to a temperature much higher than recommended by hospital foodservice so as to still be warm when served to patients.

As improved nutritional status correlates with faster healing and recovery, leading to reduced hospital stays, hospitals need improved cooking methods to reduce the loss of nutrients in foods served to patients. Physicians, dietitians, and menu planners rely on published standard nutritional values, but these standards are derived from experiments made in ideal conditions and fail to consider the various handling, holding, and delivery methods that are common in hospitals. A more vigorous approach to patient nutrition is needed, both in terms of food preparation methods and in assessing the actual nutritional status of patients.
This study appears in the June issue of the Journal of Foodservice. For media wishing to receive a PDF of the article, please contact:

Lead author Dr. Charles Feldman is a professor at the Department of Health and Nutrition Sciences at Montclair State University. He can be reached for questions at:

Incorporating Foodservice Research International and Food Service Technology, the Journal of Foodservice is a new journal for 2006 that aims to advance the technical understanding of all aspects concerned with foodservice by disseminating information about foodservice research, development, and technical operation. For more information, please visit:

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