TIVERTON and Honiton MP Neil Parish is leading calls for all meat and dairy products served in hospitals to meet animal welfare standards. He led a Westminster Hall debate on the issue as research published by the RSPCA found that seven out of ten eggs bought by English hospitals were laid|by caged hens, while around 80% of chicken and pork came from animals reared in poor conditions.

The survey, backed by the Campaign for Better Hospital Food, revealed that five out of ten eggs bought by hospitals in the South-West were from caged hens and that only 11% of chicken and 23% of pork met RSPCA welfare standards.

RSPCA Freedom Food certification ensures that animals are reared to a strict criteria of welfare standards that guarantees they are given a good quality of life.

Mr Parish, who is pressing for the Government to introduce mandatory minimum standards for hospital food, said: “Our hospitals, paid for by the taxpayer, should be leading the way in responsibly sourced food but instead they are lagging behind. “Hospitals buy a huge amount of food every year for patients and staff, and the fact that there are currently no minimum animal welfare standards in place is something that urgently needs to be addressed by the Govern-ment.”

Alex Jackson, co-ordinator of the Campaign for Better Hospital Food, said: “We’re delighted that Neil is leading calls for the introduction of animal welfare standards for hospital food. “It’s disgraceful for the taxpayer to pay for hospital food which causes misery to animals.”