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Apology after non-halal chicken was served in Whittington canteen

Hospital ‘reviewing relationship’ with firm amid calls to bring catering in-house

17 August, 2018 — By Tom Foot

Hospital’s Yardbird canteen where non-halal chicken was served on six dates

THE Whittington and its private contractor Sodexo have offered “sincere apologies” to Muslim patients and visitors for wrongly selling non-halal chicken in the hospital canteen.

The hospital said it was now “reviewing our relationship” with Sodexo. The firm was brought in on a five-year contract in 2014 when all catering services were privatised by the NHS trust.

Hospital staff were informed this week that non-halal chicken had been served after the Tribune’s sister paper, Camden New Journal, contacted the NHS trust for comment.

Shirley Franklin, chair of Defend Whittington Hospital Coalition, said: “All the food should be in-house like it used to be. This is the outcome of it being privatised. It’s a nonsense that they save money through privatisation – they will save money if they take it all back in-house.”

She added that the trust had “seen the error of their ways” with a recent decision not to sign a 10-year contract with Ryhurst – opting instead to run all its estates services in-house – and the canteen should follow suit.

Non-halal chicken is known to have been served at the Yardbird patients canteen on January 22, March 13, March 16, April 5, May 8 and May 11 this year. It did not involve other counters or inpatient meals, the hospital said.

Sodexo blamed two members of staff for not following its “purchasing procedures” and said it had retrained staff.

Halal food adheres to Islamic law, as defined in the Koran, which says animals and poultry should be slaughtered by a cut to the jugular vein and windpipe.

In 2014, Whittington’s catering services were privatised in a bid to “improve the quality of food” while saving £2.2million over a five-year contract. Twenty-two NHS-employed cater­ing staff were transferred onto the books of private company Sodexo.

The board at the time said it approved the switch after a “lengthy debate” and a comprehensive procurement process.

The hospital said this week: “We offer our sincere apologies to any Muslim patients or visitors who may have unknowingly consumed non-halal chicken on any of these dates.

“In light of this incident, we will be reviewing our relationship with Sodexo.  In the meantime, we have informed the local Trading Standards officer and are meeting with Sodexo regularly to ensure that their suppliers have halal certificates and that staff are trained appropriately.”

A Sodexo statement said its purchasing procedures were not followed by two members of staff “on a small number of occasions”, resulting in non-halal meat being offered to customers. “We take this matter very seriously,” the statement added.

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