Dunedin Hospital Cafés Fail Healthy Food Standard

A recent audit has found that just one of the five cafés operating on Southern District Health Board (SDHB) premises meet the board’s healthy food and drink policy. The policy requires at least 55 percent of items on sale be ‘green category items’ representing healthy food options.

Other items are categorised as amber or red. Amber items are foods that are okay when eaten in moderation and should make up less than 45 percent of choices available, red items are unhealthy foods and should not be sold – these items are typically high in sugar, salt, fat, were solid in large portion sizes, or were carbonated or sugary drinks.

Only one Dunedin café met the guidelines.

“The others contained far more amber or red category items,” the report to the SDHB’s community and public health advisory committee said.

The audit report recommended they should be removed completely or substituted with a healthier option.

In 2018 the SDHB introduced a new healthier food and beverage options policy at all SDHB hospitals and facilities, having previously banned sugar-sweetened drinks. The changes were in line with the Ministry of Health's national healthy food and drink policy, with which all DHBs are obliged to comply and meant café operators had had to alter some ingredients and reduce some portion sizes.

There are five food outlets on SDHB premises: Showline Café at Wakari, Revive, The Dispensary and Antidote in Dunedin Hospital, and Om Nom Nom at Southland Hospital. The SDHB did not identify which café achieved a passing grade.

The report commended cafe operators for their efforts in making changes so far and said simple changes such as displaying more green than amber items, substituting white varieties of pasta and rice for wholemeal or brown varieties, and ensuring more vegetarian options were available would help cafes better meet the policy recommendations.