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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 14:25 UK time, Monday, 4 July 2011

Samples of daily diets from the report

X-Ray revealing some of the sample menus from the report

A new report has exposed shocking differences between the quality and quantity of food being provided to care home residents across Wales.

X-Ray has been given exclusive access to the findings by Wales Heads of Trading Standards.

The statistics revealed that almost three quarters (74%) of the homes sampled offered food containing more than the daily recommended amount of saturated fat, over half (59%) gave their residents too much salt and more than a third (36%) offered a daily diet of more than 100 grams of sugar – almost twice the recommended amount for a woman aged over 75.

The research looked at the food being provided on a single day at care homes in 13 of the 22 Welsh authorities. 86 menus were nutritionally analysed at Cardiff City Council’s Food Control Laboratory looking at levels of protein, carbohydrate, fat, saturated fat and salt.

Food Standards Officer, Christine Smith, works for Torfaen Trading Standards - who conducted the report. She told us some elderly and vulnerable people may not be receiving the nutritional diets they need, “[For] most of [the care homes sampled] energy, protein carbohydrates, fat, saturated fat and sugars were above or below the average, and some of them very dramatically so.

“The consequence of that is the unbalanced diet will affect both short term and long term heath.”

It’s recommended that adults eat around 2,000 calories a day, but one home that took part in the survey provided only 750 and another almost five times that amount – 3,700 calories in just one day.

In fact 51 per cent of the homes surveyed offered less than 2,100 calories and 10 per cent gave their residents 3,100 calories or more in a day.

There is no legal requirement for staff in care homes to have nutritional training. Wales Heads of Trading Standards is calling for mandatory minimum standards of nutrition in care homes across the UK. Assembly Government-funded training is already being rolled out across Wales.

Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Ruth Marks is also backing this call, “I hope that councils and care home providers and people who work directly with older people in care homes take this report seriously and provide training for staff where appropriate - and perhaps involve older people in menu planning and making sure the food they're eating is of a good nutritional value, is of a consistently high standard and of course that older people enjoy their meals.”

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