Hospital kitchens closed down

TRADITIONAL HOSPITAL food prepared in kitchens on site could soon become a thing of the past as meal services get outsourced to private companies.

The Portuguese Food Hygiene and Economics Authority, Autoridade de Segurança Alimentar e Económica (ASAE), last week closed two kitchens at two of Lisbon’s largest hospitals, Santa Maria and Estefânia.

As of Wednesday last week, around 3,000 meals a day at the country’s largest hospital were supplied by a private company which delivers them pre-prepared in bulk in the same way that catering companies supply airlines.

On September 18, the Ministry of Health is to officially launch, internationally, a public tendering bid competition for private companies to build new state-of-the-art kitchens to prepare meals for both Santa Maria and Hospital Pulido Valente. The cost of constructing the new kitchens is estimated and budgeted at around 17 million euros.

Adalberto Campos Fernandes, who sits on the Santa Maria Hospital Board of Directors, said that given the hospital was 50 years old, its present facilities were “somewhat inadequate, obsolete and limited” to cope with the necessities of the 21st century.

“We’ve been coping just about with the situation but the ASAE understands that it’s simply not viable or practical to keep the present kitchens up and running long term,” he added. However, the Board of Directors at both hospitals stressed that until the new kitchens were up and running, hospital meal services would be kept running as smoothly as possible.

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