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Food at Belgian hospital recognized by leading restaurant guide Gault&Millau

Hospital food isn't normally synonymous with fine dining. Upending those low expectations, meals at AZ Groeninge in Kortrijk — one of Belgium's oldest and largest hospitals — have been recognized by food inspectors at famed restaurant guide Gault&Millau

In 2022, the hospital started working with Gault&Millau to improve the quality of the meals it serves patients. Inspectors visited numerous times, testing over 300 meals and providing feedback on enhancing their taste and texture. The food raters also evaluated the ingredients used in the hospital's kitchen, both on freshness and seasonality, and the nutritional value of menus.

While AZ Groeninge won't be included in Gault&Millau's restaurant guide, the quality recognition will be valid for one year.

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In most commercial settings, food has become better over the past decades — cause and effect of increasingly demanding consumers. In hospitals, on the other hand, enjoyability was long neglected. Meals needed to be low-cost, easy to prepare, convenient to serve and nominally nutritious, but flavor and texture weren't given much consideration.

That's changing as research indicates that good food doesn't just contribute to a patient's well-being, but to their healing process, too. In a broader sense, being served appetizing food is an integral part of feeling cared for. Is there an equivalent of hospital food in your industry that's due a revision to meet customer expectations and fulfill a basic human need?

Related: New York's public hospitals serve plant-based meals by default