More than 200 residential, nursing and care homes have received low grades in their latest food safety inspections.
The Guardian analysis of Food Standards Agency (FSA) data found care homes performed worse than any other type of care provider.
The FSA ranks food providers from a score of zero to five. Zero means urgently requires improvement, while one or two is considered a fail, and three to five is satisfactory.
Businesses with a zero rating are shut down immediately or given 28 days to improve.
While 98% of hospitals and other care providers had a rating of three or better, more than 500 care providers failed the inspections.
Six residential care homes were given zero ratings with issues including mouldy and expired food found in fridges, evidence of cross-contamination between raw and cooked food, lack of hand-washing facilities, poor cooking equipment and no food safety management documentation.
Nadra Ahmed OBE (pictured), chair of the National Care Association, told Care Home Professional: “Meal times are a really important time socially and nutritionally for the people that we care for. Meal times and well-being go hand in hand so it is really important that care homes are providing a balanced and nutritional diet.”