QUEEN'S PARK -- Elderly Ontarians living in long-term care homes may not be receiving “sufficient food and nutrition,” according to the province’s auditor general, and are often subjected to late or missed meals, contaminated food and products that are served beyond their best before date.

The audit of the province’s 626 long-term care homes, which are co-funded by the provincial government and residents, found about 1.3 food-related incidents per day between January 2018, and May 2018.

The most egregious case, according to the auditor, was one home that served residents liquid whole eggs three months past the best before date. The auditor notes that while expired food “may still be safe” it would lose some of its “freshness, flavour and nutritional value.”

Meals, which were served up to 45 minutes late, often contained too much sugar and sodium and not enough fibre, according to the report contrary to regulatory requirements that residents should be consuming adequate nutrients, fibre and energy.

Lysyk’s team observed long-term care residents eating in hallways and next to linen carts, which the report says can “negatively affect” enjoyment and consumption of meals.

While the Ontario Long Term Care Association agreed that the there needs to be improvement to the food and nutrition standards in long-term care homes, it told the auditor that “resident choice” plays a factor in nutrition.

“Many people in long-term care prefer to eat a diet they find familiar, even if it is less nutritious,” the association said in its response to the auditor’s recommendations.