Patients were "best placed" to decide what hospital food was good and what left a bad taste in their mouths, a Department of Health spokesman said.
He was speaking amidst claims hospital chiefs were awarding their hospital's food five stars while patients were dissatisfied with food.
However, the Department of Health also defended decisions made on hospital food "taken locally" by kitchen staff and ruled out legislating mandatory standards.
– Department of Health spokesman
There are many fantastic examples of really good food across the NHS thanks to forward-thinking and innovative staff.
But we recognise that there is too much variation across the country - that is why we have implemented a tough new inspection programme...
We support the principle of food standards but do not think that legislation is the right way to proceed.
We believe that the best decisions on hospital food are those taken locally by chefs and catering managers.
Patients are the ones who consume hospital food and they are best placed to decide what is good and what is not.