Compass Christmas dinner panned

A Dunedin woman says a Compass-made festive dinner dropped off to a friend by Meals on Wheels was so bad it ruined her friend's Christmas.

The complaint came after reports a staff member at Dunedin Hospital found a caterpillar in their Christmas meal.

Diana Graham said she was ‘‘absolutely shocked'' when she saw what her friend, whom she did not want to name, was given.

‘‘If this is what we can expect in the future from this new Compass Group which has taken over, I really fear for the health and wellbeing of our sick and elderly in our community.

‘‘These people must be making a huge profit at the expense of our sick and elderly,'' she said.

The meagre meal her friend was given consisted of tiny bits of potato, two very small bits of broccoli and diced bits of pumpkin, a ‘‘minute sliver of white sauce'' and two and a-half paper-thin slices of dry turkey, with gravy too salty for her friend to eat.

The ‘‘absolutely horrific'' pudding consisted of two slices of dry, bland fruit cake covered by a small amount of tasteless custard.

A spokesman for Medirest, a subsidiary of Compass, said every effort was made to provide appetising and tasty meals.

‘‘Our new menus have been thoroughly pre-tested and tasted with overwhelmingly positive feedback, and we have evaluation processes in place to help us learn from this year's Christmas meal, which we will use to plan for next year.''

It had received no other complaints about the Christmas meal.

It was also disappointed to hear about the caterpillar found in a staff member's meal and had been in contact with its supplier of fresh produce to find out how the situation came about and to ensure this did not happen again.

‘‘We fully appreciate that this was a distressing situation for the person involved and want to ensure there is no repeat of the situation.''

Age Concern Meals on Wheels volunteer driver co-ordinator Kristen Beardsmore said she had not heard of any other complaints about the quality of the Christmas dinner.

The Christmas Day meal was the first frozen meal trucked down from Auckland.

‘‘They are back to normal being made by the kitchen at the moment.''

SDHB older persons' health general manager Robert West referred the Otago Daily Times to Compass when asked to comment, but did say no-one had come to the DHB with concerns about Christmas day meals.

-vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

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