NHS patients are forced to "suffer unnecessarily" because of a lack of political willpower to improve hospital food, according to television presenter Loyd Grossman.
Grossman was appointed in 2000 to head up a £40 million project to improve the quality of hospital catering, but he quit in frustration after five years over what he saw as a "prejudice against common sense".
He told Channel 4's Dispatches: "Someone at the top has got to take the issue of food seriously or else patients will continue to suffer unnecessarily."
He continued: "I don't think anything made me snap. It was really just an accumulation of five years of frustration, knowing that it should be done, knowing that it could be done, yet looking all around me and finding all sorts of impediments."
He said every time he made a "basic suggestion about improving hospital catering" the response would be that it was "not evidence based", adding: "There was kind of a prejudice against common sense, the kind of common sense that's been part of patient care since Hippocrates.
"It seemed so obvious and it still seems so obvious that if you give patients better food they will be happier, they will heal more quickly."
He said good-quality food should be a "basic element of decent humane treatment of people who are ill".
He continued: "The system of political control is very difficult. During the time that I was working with the NHS, say over a period of five years, I reported to five different ministers. Every time a new minister arrives, there's a new mountain to climb. They have to be educated about it, they have to be convinced that it's a good idea etc etc."
He said that his mantra "that was never listened to" was "don't tell me you have a good hospital unless you have good food".
Dispatches: The Truth About Hospital Food will be broadcast on Monday at 8pm.