Whittington Hospital apologises for mistakenly selling non-halal chicken in canteen

NHS Trust says sorry to Muslim patients and visitors after error by private firm Sodexo

Wednesday, 15th August 2018 — By Tom Foot


The mistake was made at the Yard Bird outlet 

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

The Whittington said it was now “reviewing our relationship” with its contractor 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 today after the New Journal contacted the NHS trust for comment on Tuesday night.

Shirley Franklin, chair of the 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 ten year contract with Ryhurst – opting instead run all its estates services in house – and the canteen should follow suit.

Non-halal chicken is known to have been served at the Yard Bird patient 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 is that which adheres to Islamic law, as defined in the Koran, that says animals and poultry should be slaughtered by a cut to the jugular vein and windpipe.

In 2014, the 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 the private company Sodexo.

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

It said yesterday (Wednesday): “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 their staff are trained appropriately.”

A Sodexo statement said: “Sodexo 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.”

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