Action urged to make food, drink packs easier to open

NHS Packaging easy open
11/09/2017 - 10:22
A coalition of caterers, nursing staff, dietitians, suppliers and academics is encouraging the catering industry to get behind moves to make single-portion food and drink packs easier to open.

They met at Reading University to review progress on the issue and were told that a new standard (ISO 17480) had been officially recognised and testing against was already underway.

Dr Alaster Yoxall from Sheffield Hallam University, who works for Design Futures, the commercial packaging design consultancy based at the university, said: “We might think the problem is trivial, but 63% of the 73m single portion packaging purchased is unopenable – that’s 44m items.

“It can take an average of 20 seconds - to open those would take 250,000 work hours or 11,000 work days. It can also mean patient dissatisfaction and lead to poor nutrition.”

He said that testing was already being carried out on ISO 17480, the international standard on accessible design and easy opening for packaging.

“Premier [Ambrosia pots], Good Food Chain [sandwiches], Juice Works [juices, jellies] and Unilever [Flora, Marmite] all have products that have passed.

“We now have a process that exists to test and pass products, so let’s use it.”

Andy Jones, a packaging task force panel member and chair of the PS100 Group, added: “Food is part of the patients care plan, it’s about food quality and meal enjoyment, and it’s of no nutritional value if it’s not eaten.

“NHS England wants more of this. We need to make things simpler for people to open. It is a push-pull. The culture has to change.

“The products are starting to come through, but we now need supply partners, nurses, dietitians to help us effect real change.”

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