Hospital staff given allowance to buy own food - 4/9/2008

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Thursday, 4th September 2008

Hospital staff given allowance to buy own food
The health authorities have suspended the staff food service at Mater Dei Hospital after a nurse found the severed head of a mouse in her food but the government would not say whether the contractor would still be paid for the service.

"The management is acting according to the provisions of the contract," is all a spokesman for the Social Policy Ministry would say on this point.

The ministry said last night it has instructed the hospital authorities to suspend the canteen service and give staff an allowance to buy their food from elsewhere, instead.

An investigation has been launched into the incident, shortly after news broke out about the unsavoury addition to the nurse's menu on Tuesday. The nurse found the remains while eating in the staff canteen on Monday.

The president of the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses, Paul Pace told The Times the union was "expecting action to be taken against the contractor and wants to know what safeguards will be taken in the future".

The Health Division said the hospital management took immediate action to launch investigations, with public health inspectors going on site to verify facts and drawing up the first reports.

The company operating the canteen, Papillon Caterers, still opened as usual in the afternoon. But there were no clients to feed, the sources said.

The company said it had destroyed all the stock furnished by a Belgian supplier and terminated all ties with him.

"The contractor is completely confident that the incident did not arise in-house," the Health Division said. It added that local health inspectors, who were checking at the canteen found the contractor and the kitchen to be up to scratch and complying with Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) catering standards required by EU legislation. The canteen and kitchen also passed quality control.

Malta Health Care Caterers Ltd said yesterday it has nothing to do with food served to staff at Mater Dei Hospital.

The company said it caters for patients and not staff at Mater Dei, Sir Paul Boffa, Karen Grech and Zammit Clapp hospitals.

The management of Malta Health Care Caterers Ltd said it would like to put the public's mind at rest and assure it that their food satisfies all criteria.

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