News item

Care home meals tested by Trading Standards

ColourForksWarwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service has been helping private care and nursing homes across the County improve the food served to residents.

In 2011, Trading Standards Officers visited ten independent care and nursing homes to inspect and sample the meals being served. The homes were chosen on the basis of those most likely to benefit from their inclusion in the project.

The lunch menu was sampled, this included puddings.

Officers then sent the samples to their Public Analyst for examination. The meals were analysed against the Caroline Walker Trust and National Association of Care Caterers guidelines. Both organisations seek to improve the nutritional standards of foods served to older people.

Meals sampled included salmon en croute, pork casserole, cottage pie and toad in the hole, served with a range of vegetables. Pudding included sago pudding and strawberry jam, fruit cocktail and fresh cream, roly poly sponge with custard and cheesecake.

The results:

• Vitamin C levels were a concern in eight out of ten meals sampled. The Vitamin is essential for collagen formation and helps to maintain the integrity of connective tissue, bone and dentine. It also helps wound healing and facilitates the absorption of iron. It is found in many fresh fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin C levels ranged from 1.28mg per meal to 5.32mg per meal – under half the recommended level. The Caroline Walker Trust recommends a level of 12mg of Vitamin C per meal.

• Vitamin D levels were also inconsistent. Vitamin D is important for good health, growth and strong bones. The Vitamin is found in foods including oily fish, egg yolk and some fortified foods (although 90% of our vitamin D is made in the skin with the help of sunlight).

In six out of ten meals, the Vitamin D levels ranged from 40IU to 80IU per meal. The Caroline Walker Trust says that levels should be around 120IU.

• Portion sizes were also highlighted as an issue. They were too large in three homes and too small another two. This meant that residents were getting either too many or too few calories.

The most calorific meal was 1129kcal, 499kcal over the 630kcal Caroline Walker Trust guidance per meal. The meal with the lowest calorific value was 450kcal.

• Most of the homes were unaware of the Caroline Walker Trust or the National Association of Care Caterers guidelines. These guidelines are voluntary.

Warwickshire County Councillor Richard Hobbs, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said:

"We are delighted to be able to work with care homes and nursing homes in Warwickshire to improve food standards.”

“The homes were very welcoming and appreciated the work we were able to do to identify problems and offer solutions.”

“All the homes that took part were provided with advice and assistance to improve the nutritional standards and portion sizes of the meals they served.”

The project was undertook with the assistance of District and Borough Councils and the Care Quality Commission.

Warwickshire Trading Standards would advise people seeking care home or nursing home places to ask what nutritional guidelines the establishment follows.


1) The care homes and nursing homes will not be identified but were located in Warwick District, Stratford District, Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough and Rugby Borough.

For further information contact:
For more information  please contact Simon Cripwell, Senior Information Officer, Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards Service on 01926 414039 or 07771 975570