D.C. Bill Would Ban Hospitals From Serving Bacon to Dying Patients

Should Mary Cheh, the City Councilmember for D.C. become law, then people will need to stockpile comfort food and snacks prior to visiting loved ones at D.C. hospital.

Cheh’s Healthy Hospitals Amendment Act of 2022 would have forbade hospitals serving meats such as bacon and sausage and require them to offer healthier meals and beverages.

Cheh wrote Friday that research shows that eating a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables and grains can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. She also noted that only 10 percent of D.C.’s adults are getting the recommended amount of vegetables. We can increase these numbers with this bill by making sure that all hospital patients have access to nutritious meals.

This is not a novel idea. WAMUMartin Austermuhle, a reporter for the New York Times, notes that Cheh introduced this bill to begin 2019 but was rejected by the city council.

Based on an American Medical Association resolution of 2017, the legislation calls for hospitals to ban processed meats, encourage healthy beverages and offer healthy food at affordable prices.

The outright ban on processed meats—defined as meats that have been “been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation”—is complemented by a number of regulations to nudge people into picking healthier drinks.

Cheh’s bill requires that 75% of all drinks sold in cafeterias and hospitals be made from non-sugar sweetened beverages. Sparkling waters and water would have to also be placed in vending machines at eye level or in the most-sold position. Sodas must be placed at the farthest distance from eyes or in the lowest selling position.

Hospitals will also be forbidden from serving sugar-sweetened drinks to patients, unless it is necessary for therapeutic reasons.

Cheh’s bill is logic. Hospitals should be healing places, not selling foods that are harmful to the body.

It is not the D.C. government’s concern how hospitals organize their cafeteria meals or stock vending machines. This is probably the most obvious objection.

It is unlikely that stricter hospital menu regulations will improve patients’ health. Most people (hopefully) don’t stay in hospital for long periods of time so any health benefits they get from eating less hot dogs won’t last. Drinking fewer Cokes won’t fix a serious condition that has been in hospital for a long time.

Cheh’s bill also contains an unintentional cruelty: Hospitals aren’t known for being fun. You are most likely a hospital patient. Visitor: There’s likely something serious wrong with someone you love.

Some people could benefit from some comfort in difficult circumstances, both emotionally and physically. A side dish of bacon, while not the best choice for everyone, could offer some relief. People dying from cancer should be able to choose their preferred beverage, even if it is not “therapeutically required”.