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The Victorian government will conduct a food audit of meals served across its public hospitals and aged care homes focusing on taste, variety and nutritional value in a bid to lift the standard of current offerings.

Announced today at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, the audit delivers on an Andrews Government election promise and is set to take into account a range of factors including taste, nutritional value, using local produce and providing diverse foods for modern diets in an effort to improve the experience for patients and residents.

Specifically, the audit will:

  • Consider the nutritional value of food and drinks served and how public hospitals and aged care home menus can cater to the diverse needs of modern diets
  • Assess the taste and variety of meals currently offered
  • Examine ways to source local produce from Victorian farmers
  • Explore reducing high fat and high salt foods from hospital, either at the bedside, in hospital-run cafes or vending machines

The audit will led by parliamentary secretary Anthony Carbines, in close partnership with health experts and hospitals.

Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the state government was taking action to ensure patients and residents receive a balanced and nutritious diet and get served up a wide variety of “nutritious foods they know and love”.

Last month, celebrity chef Maggie Beer gave evidence at the Aged Care Royal Commission in Cairns as it examined the quality of food in aged care.

Ms Beer told the Commission it would be impossible for some aged care homes who spend just $7 a day on food for each resident to be able to provide a proper diet that the elderly need and deserve.

“It’s not possible because they [chefs] will have to use processed foods, frozen food, frozen vegetables, fish that is usually frozen and imported, not even Australian,” she said.

Ms Beer suggested $10.50 would be the minimum food budget to adequately feed aged care residents, as long as it was provided by trained and passionate cooks and chefs supported by providers and adequate staffing.”

Ms Beer told the Commission older Australians living in aged care deserved a well-rounded diet typified by food that takes into account smell, goodness, pleasure and most importantly, flavour.

“Flavour is everything. Flavour with aroma along with goodness, the nutrition, will give the pleasure and it can be done but there’s a lot of work to do.”