TuckIN project success for Princess Alexandra Hospital

Thursday, 3 January, 2019

Kitchen staff at the Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) are celebrating after receiving nutrition qualifications as part of the TuckIN project.

Harlow Council’s Environmental Health Team have been working with other councils across Essex on the TuckIN initiative to increase availability of healthier food choices by helping local businesses to make simple but significant changes to their food and drink offering. The project was launched in 2015 and is available to businesses which are not part of national chains and have achieved a food hygiene rating of 3 or higher.

Businesses pledge to make changes which will include some or all of the following:

  • Reducing salt
  • Reducing sugar
  • Use alternative oils with less saturated fat
  • Reduce portion sizes or offer alternative options
  • Offering alternatives to sugary drinks
  • Offering salad and fresh fruit options

Harlow currently has 15 food premises signed up to the project and officers are continuing to work with local businesses to increase this number.

The Council has been working with the catering team at PAH for around 18 months and has seen a great improvement in catering standards and food offering.

At its latest food hygiene inspection on 7 June 2018 the hospital received a Food Hygiene Rating of 5 (Very Good). This is down to a fundamental shift in back-to-basics catering provision, using local produce where possible to freshly prepare dishes for both the ward catering and the staff and public restaurant. The restaurant now includes a wide variety of healthy options with appropriate portion sizes including superfood salads, water, and lower calorie (but still tasty) snacks.

The restaurant kitchen has also been completely refurbished to enable it to run more efficiently and give staff the tools to properly create fresh, tasty food.

Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust (PAHT) recently signed up to the TuckIN pledge and two of the chefs, Claire Bishop and Suzanne Spiller, successfully completed the Level 2 Nutrition Course offered as part of the project. Their qualification certificates were presented to them by Harlow Council’s Environment and Licensing Manager, Michael Pitt.

PAHT Executive Chef Andreas Wingert, said:

“What we’ve done is created a whole new menu, improved our supply chain so that the food we use is as fresh as possible and we’ve focused on encouraging our team to cook from scratch. With the equipment we have now in the newly refurbished kitchen we are able to make freshly prepared, wholesome and nutritious food quickly and because of that there is a real passion in the kitchen, our chefs are engaged and take pride in the dishes they create for the patients and hospital staff.

“I am so proud of what we have achieved here so far, particularly of Claire and Suzanne for attaining their qualifications, and with the help of the TuckIN programme we will continue to improve.”

As part of the project businesses have the opportunity to complete Level 2 Nutrition training to increase awareness of the fundamentals of a healthy balanced diet and reinforce the importance of healthier food and drink choices for customers. Small and simple changes can have a positive impact on long-term health, especially if foods prepared outside home make up a significant proportion of diets.

The Health and Wellbeing Board for Harlow has identified diet as a key target issue impacting on the health and wellbeing of the local population and the TuckIN project is part of tackling this.

For more information on the TuckIN initiative: