Soggy, mouldy and hair in food: Hotel quarantine hell
Australian families in hotel quarantine are spending thousands on meal delivery services, claiming food served as part of their self-funded hotel stay is not only inedible but, in some cases, poses a serious health risk.
Five day-old poached eggs, stale bread, rotten fruit, food days past its use-by date, mouldy coleslaw, hair garnishes and a surprise course of anaphylaxis - these are some of the treats Aussie hotel guests are being served as part of their "all-inclusive" quarantine.
With some hotels repeatedly ignoring dietary requests, including severe food allergies, large numbers of Australians are resorting to ordering additional food online, adding hundreds or thousands to the fees they are already paying to quarantine.
Facebook pages 'Hotel Quarantine Australia' and 'Rate my plate Australian hotel quarantine food' have become dedicated platforms for frustrated diners to vent about the inedible meals they are being forced to pay for as part of their quarantine fees.
"It seems they were worried I might feel lonely in ... Adelaide, so they decided to send me a pet to my room. I've named him Kelvin," commented one man quarantining in a 5 star hotel in South Australia, beside a picture of his mould-adorned lettuce.
"At least we have salad but the tomato was cut a bit rustic," quipped a guest about the tomato core unceremoniously dumped atop the salad served by at a five-star hotel in Brisbane.
Victoria may have a reputation a state of foodies but not-so when it comes to quarantine.
"Has anyone informed the hotel of allergies but they keep getting food with the allergen in their meals? … It's frustrating when we are paying for this and it can't be eaten," posted one woman from Victoria.
Things are equally grim in Sydney, where one hotel guest at a five-star establishment was served a brownie loaded with nuts, despite clearly indicating she was severely allergic.
"Anaphylaxis to nuts and this was my desert (sic) tonight," she commented.
And another five-star harbourside Sydney hotel was serving rubbery five-day old eggs.
"Today I was served THE SAME breakfast I was served on Sunday, but now the eggs are 5 DAYS old," wrote the aggrieved guest, noting the date stamp on the packaging.
Construction worker Tom Jackson spoke to News Corp on his final day of quarantining on the Gold Coast with his pregnant partner Sarah* and their three-year-old son.
The young family moving from Sydney for work had spent approximately $1400 on Uber Eats and online grocery deliveries for the period - that's in addition to the bill for $2275 to cover food provided by the hotel for the two weeks.
"The food provided was pretty much inedible, so that's why we're ordering in breakfast, lunch and dinner," said Jackson.
"Breakfast would be just a tiny bag of cereal, no milk or anything and they reckon that's worth $22.
"Sometimes they would do like an omelette with sausage and tomato but it was in nearly two centimetres of water because it was put straight in one of those Chinese plastic containers and probably been sitting there for an hour or two. It was kind of lukewarm but just soaking in water.
"I said, 'look, can you at least just give us a ham and cheese croissant?' And it was like from a service station, basically a ham and cheese croissant in plastic that's just been microwaved. I wouldn't usually eat that."
With Sarah 29 weeks pregnant, the couple applied for home quarantine, concerned about the health impacts of hotel quarantine, given she had returned abnormal blood results showing nutrient deficiencies for vitamin D. However, 26 days after it was submitted - and by their final day of quarantine - the couple still hadn't been informed of the outcome of their application.
By day three, Sarah was feeling severely unwell and after blood tests taken in the room showed her nutrient levels had significantly worsened, she was transported to hospital in an ambulance. The couple requested they move hotels and though they said their second hotel is "at least trying" they claim the food is still gravely lacking.
The Jackson family's story is just one of the many horror experiences being aired on quarantine-devoted Facebook pages around the country.
Jade, 44, and her husband Najib, 33, who also quarantined on the Gold Coast, estimate they spent an additional $700 on food, on top of the $65 daily food charge paid for their hotel food.
"My husband is Muslim and we were sure sausages they served us were pig," said Jade, despite Najib clearly stipulating "no pork".
"They were just really good at serving processed, high-fat, high sugar, high salt food.
It was bloody revolting. If you weren't sick by the time you went into quarantine you would be by the time you came out," she added.
While other guests claim they have had "no complaints" about their food, standards vary drastically between providers.
"When you're in that room 24 hours a day, all you do is look forward to those three meals a day," said Jackson.
"And when that food comes and it's inedible, your mental health just drop when you get that lunch or dinner and it's just absolute crap … then you spend half an hour on Uber eats and wait another hour for your food. It's just really bad."
Originally published as Soggy, mouldy and hair in food: Hotel quarantine hell