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A special diet of special importance

Thursday, January 28, 2021

An inmate’s complaint led to the development of a formalized policy and additional training.

While detained at the Prince George Regional Correction Centre (PGRCC), Dan, who has celiac disease and is allergic to tomatoes and oranges, believed he was being served food that was making him ill.

When he arrived at the PGRCC he was told he would receive a gluten-free diet, but he felt he was being exposed to gluten. Dan spoke to several correctional officers, who told him that they would help to resolve the issue. While the food Dan was being served did improve, he continued to have concerns. He believed he was still being exposed to gluten as well as to tomatoes and oranges on occasion. He also didn’t feel that the gluten-free substitutes he was served were the caloric equivalent to the normal diet being served.

Feeling the kitchen wasn’t taking his dietary restriction seriously, Dan contacted us.

We reviewed records relating to Dan’s complaint, including his client log, his inmate complaint forms and his healthcare records during his time at PRGCC. We also spoke to the warden about his concerns.

The warden noted a medical alert was entered on Dan’s file when he arrived and that he was put on a diet free of gluten, tomatoes and oranges. Further, the warden explained that the kitchen manager ensures detainees on gluten-free diets receive calorie-equivalent meals. The warden also explained that the kitchen manager substitutes oranges with different fruit and prepares soup specifically for Dan to accommodate his allergies.

The kitchen manager acknowledged that gluten contamination had occurred on one occasion; an error that Dan brought to their attention.

We requested that the PGRCC review its process for providing meals to inmates with special diets for medical reasons. PRGCC agreed and ensured that its process would be consistent with other centres across the province as well as with advanced food-safety standards.

As a result of this investigation, cooks at the PGRCC were required to complete a course on advanced foodsafe training. The PRGCC also developed a formalized
process for special diets and incorporated it into its standard operating and training procedure.

The PRGCC addressed the unfairness identified and as such, we closed our investigation.

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