Bringing food from home

Are you thinking about bringing food from home to your family or friend in hospital? 

Please follow these food safety guidelines 

Hospital meals are prepared in-house, as per dietary and Australian safe food requirements, in conjunction with dietitians. Catering staff visit all inpatients in the morning and afternoon to collect menus and address dietary requests. Bringing food from home to family or friends in hospital can be appealing however people who are unwell can be at higher risk of getting food poisoning and complications from food poisoning which can be caused by’ high-risk’ foods. It is important to perform hand hygiene as you enter and leave a healthcare facility.

What are high risk foods? 

Some foods are considered ‘high-risk’ and can cause severe illness, such as Listeria infection. Below is a list of foods which should not be brought into hospital, if unsure, ask a nurse or midwife.

  • Pate 
  • cold ready-to-eat chicken 
  • cold meats such as polony, ham, salami 
  • soft cheeses such as brie, camembert, fetta 
  • packaged, pre-prepared fruit or vegetable salads 
  • freshly squeezed fruit or vegetable juices 
  • ready to eat cold, smoked or raw seafood such as smoked salmon, oysters, sashimi or cooked prawns 
  • sushi 
  • soft serve ice cream and thick shakes 
  • tofu: soft, hard and tempeh
  • unpasteurised milk and unpasteurised milk products
  • raw egg foods such as home-made egg mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce, uncooked cakes and desserts

Transporting food to the hospital 

Cold or hot food must be protected from contamination during preparation and transport. Temperatures between 5 and 60 degrees are known as the ‘temperature danger zone’, as harmful bacteria can multiply to dangerous levels. All food should be eaten as close to preparation time as possible.

Cold food 

  • must be kept below 5 degrees Celsius.

Hot food 

  • must be kept above 60 degrees Celsius. 

Storing and reheating food in hospital 

You will not have access to a refrigerator, microwave or oven during your stay in hospital. Perishable food that is not eaten immediately should be put in the bin.

What foods can I store in hospital? 

Some patients like to keep extra food in their rooms. ‘Shelf-stable’ foods such as foods kept in a pantry are permitted e.g. crackers, uncut fruit and lollies. Do not keep ‘fridge foods’ such as cold meats, dairy products e.g. custards, cream filled cakes, or cooked vegetable or meat dishes in rooms. 

When you bring food into the hospital for a relative or friend you are responsible for its safety.