Subway and Burger King bottom of hospital food healthy eating table

Updated: 

Food retailers in hospitals have been rated according to how well they are meeting healthy eating targets set down by NHS England, with Subway and Burger King at the bottom of the rankings.

Firms such as Costa, Starbucks and Subway have been rated by the Campaign for Better Hospital Food for their commitment to improving the range of healthy food they offer patients, staff and visitors.

The Royal Voluntary Service comes out top in the league table, while Subway and Burger King - which has an outlet at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge - are at the bottom.

NHS England has set targets for healthier checkouts by March, together with targets on food advertising and price promotions.

Katherine Button, from the Campaign for Better Hospital Food, said: "It's disappointing that Subway and Burger King alone out of all the major brands serving food in hospitals are the only two we found not to be working towards NHS England targets on promotion of healthier food.

"The healthier option should be the easier option in hospitals, and at the moment Subway and Burger King appear to be holding back moves towards a healthier NHS."

According to the rankings, Subway - which has 12 outlets in hospitals - has failed to commit to or meet three out of the four targets for promoting healthy food.

A statement from Subway said it was "disappointed that the survey does not recognise the commitment that the Subway brand has made in offering our customers a healthier on-the-go choice".

"For example, in the Subway £3 lunch, five out of the nine standard build subs available in all stores across the UK, including in our hospital stores, are from the low fat range.

"The Subway brand is a proud partner of Heart Research UK which supports a customer's choice of a low fat sub, as demonstrated by the red healthy heart logo on our menu boards in all stores, including those in hospitals."

Marks and Spencer, which has 21 hospital stores, scored highly for healthy checkouts but has not given an explicit commitment to healthy price promotions.

A spokeswoman said: "Our hospital stores are important to us and we're really pleased that the work we've done to remove sweet treats from till points and replace them with healthy snacks as part of our Eat Well range has been recognised.

"We do always ensure that our promotions have a healthy option for our customers to choose, and by March next year we will comply with NHS England targets on food advertising."

Pret a Manger, which has a store in the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, scored highly but continues to display high-fat baked goods at its checkouts.

Costa and Starbucks aim to meet the targets by March.

A spokeswoman for Pret said: "In line with the targets, we have moved our 'treat' bars away from our tills. The front counter now contains healthier snacks like nuts, seeds and roasted coconut. Our freshly baked pastries and cakes remain at the counter behind glass for safety and hygiene reasons, but we have moved our fruit stand to be next to them at the tills.

"At the end of each day, the shop donates unsold food to Ronald McDonald House, which provides support to families whose children are receiving treatment at John Radcliffe."

Commercial caterers that serve their own food in hospitals - and have agreements with major brands such as Costa or Starbucks - were also featured in the league table.

Sodexo and Medirest (part of the Compass Group), were unable to commit to the NHS England targets fully across their operations.

Sodexo spokeswoman Clare Collins said: "All Sodexo branded retail outlets in hospitals - which represent around 90% of our total healthcare outlets - already fully comply with the guidelines in advance of the deadline. There are currently nine branded franchises which we are proactively working with to try and achieve compliance by March 2017."