Councils across the country are looking to cut costs by having home-helpers deliver seven vacuum-packed sandwiches at the start of each week rather than make them a fresh meal every day.
Faaborg-Midtfyn Council has joined those in Esberg and Odense in using prefab food that can often be as much as two weeks old before it is consumed. Faaborg-Midtfyn Council said that it can save up to two million kroner annually by using the pre-made egg and pâté sandwiches.
Vacuum-packed and microwaved
Advocates for the elderly fear the practice that they regard as unhealthy will spread across the country, in much the same way as the practice of a microwaved main meal for pensioners has become the standard nationwide.
“Councils are going too far in their hunt for savings,” Bjarne Hastrup, the head of elderly advocates Ældre Sagen, told Jyllands-Posten.
Jens Kondrup, a professor at Rigshospitalet and head of national nutrition society Selskab for Klinisk Ernæring, said vacuum-packed food does not have the quality or nutritional value that the elderly need.
“This is an alarming development,” Kondrup said. “Many elderly people are already malnourished, which leads to twice as many, longer hospital stays than those who are receiving proper nutrition.”
Manu Sareen, the social affairs minster, denounced the council’s savings model.
"It is disgraceful to give older people vacuum-packed egg sandwiches meant to last a week,” said Sareen. “I cannot believe this.”
The minister pointed out that councils had recently received one billion kroner earmarked for improving conditions for elderly residents.