HOSPITAL food has a reputation similar to that of school dinners, British Rail cuisine and, famously, the BBC's staff canteen.
However, the Countess of Chester Hospital has recently scored well in an independent Food Watch survey conducted by a patients' watchdog.
Last month members of the Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) Forum interviewed 50 patients at random across various wards anonymously to ensure honest answers.
The results showed the food was tasty and nutritious, says PPI spokesman Geoff Ryall-Harvey who said: 'People really like the quality of the food, they get a good choice and it is served hot. You had some comments about the sprouts being overdone or not done enough, someone said there was too much foreign food, but this all a matter of taste. You can't please everyone.'
The survey showed 96% of patients had a choice of meals in advance, 92% said they had sufficient time to eat their meals and 30% said they had received help with eating.
Mr Ryall-Harvey said it was crucial that anyone who could not eat for themselves was assisted, otherwise a full plate of food would be taken away and the patient could eventually become malnourished.
Mike Phelan, director of operations, said the in-house catering service has also been praised in internal surveys.
He said: 'Without being complacent, everything is telling us the food is to a very good standard. The people who run the service have a real pride in the service.'
Mr Phelan said it made sense that people recovering from illness needed decent food to help them on the road to recovery. He was also pleased that nursing staff were assisting patients who needed help at meal times.