Reducing food waste in hospitals with smaller portion meals

In May 2016, WRAP conducted a waste prevention trial with patients in the Elderly Care Rehabilitation wards at St David’s Hospital, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board. The aim of the trial was to assess if there is a direct link between the size of a meal served and the weight of plate waste of pureed meals.

The health care food supplier Apetito has introduced a new Puree Petite range of meals for people suffering with dysphagia (swallowing difficulties).   Each meal portion is smaller by weight, but has a similar nutritional value compared with its standard pureed meal range.  Therefore, gram for gram, the smaller sized meals are more nutritionally beneficial for patients making them an ideal choice for patients with reduced appetites.

Our case study details the findings from this work.

The trial was conducted over a two week period for a cohort of elderly patients who were on a longstanding pureed diet and whose feeding requirements were considered unlikely to change significantly over the trial period. The main findings were:

  • The reduced portion meals were 37% smaller than the equivalent ‘standard size’
  • Reduction in plate waste, by weight, was observed when the smaller portion of meal was served during the trial
  • Reduction in plate waste suggests a corresponding increase in nutritional intake
  • Patients with a better appetite were in general, able to eat all of the protein element of the reduced sized meals
  • These meals are well suited to patients recovering from an illness.