Date Published: 23 April 2009

Caterers work hard to improve workers' health

Health Food - illustrating an item from the UK Food Standards Agency.

Millions of employees are now enjoying healthier meals, thanks to the efforts of 12 of the UK’s leading contract caterers and two of the biggest foodservice suppliers, who have been working with the FSA.

The FSA has today published an update on actions taken in 2008 to help workers eat more healthily, as well as further commitments for the year ahead. Companies highlighted today are: Aramark, Artizian, autograph, BaxterStorey, Charlton House, Compass Group, Elior, Harbour & Jones, ISS Eaton, ISS Mediclean, Sodexo and 7 Day Catering. Brakes and 3663 First for Foodservice, leading suppliers to the catering market, are also involved. The catering companies cover around 85% of the workplace contract catering market.

The updates show significant progress is being delivered, with millions of workers across the UK having more access to healthier options every day. Some of the measures taken by caterers to deliver healthier choices include:

* increasing the number of sites at which they run ‘healthier eating packages’ that include nutritionally balanced menus and ensure their chefs and managers follow recommended cooking and purchasing practices
* reviewing the nutrient content of thousands of products on buying lists and selecting those with lower levels of saturated fat, salt or sugar
* developing comprehensive training and guidance packages and using these to train hundreds of kitchen staff, as well as buying, sales and marketing teams
* developing new menus and healthier recipes; often making the dish healthier without obvious changes – ‘health by stealth
* increasing the number of restaurants in which nutrition information or ‘healthy choice’ labelling is available
* running healthy eating promotions such as loyalty schemes to encourage sales of fruit

Brakes and 3663 are working to reformulate mainstream products, provide a wider range of healthy choices and offer support and information to their clients to help them plan healthier menus.

Rosemary Hignett, the FSA’s head of nutrition, said:

"We congratulate all of these companies on how much they have achieved and welcome their commitments to go even further in 2009. Around 10% of all meals eaten out of the home are in a workplace catering restaurant, so this will help deliver considerable public health benefits.

These companies are all very different in terms of size, customer base and operation, but have united with one ultimate aim – to work with us to help their customers eat more healthily."

Workplace caterers were the first companies to work with the Agency to publish healthy eating commitments. Aramark, BaxterStorey, Brakes, Compass Group, Elior, Sodexo and 3663 published their first healthy eating commitments in January 2008, with the others following in July 2008. 7 Day Catering and Harbour & Jones recently agreed to work with the Agency on this initiative.

Since January 2008, healthy eating commitments have been made by more than 30 catering companies including quick service restaurants, pub restaurants and coffee shop and sandwich chains. Similar commitments are due to be published soon by a number of family dining restaurant chains.

 

Source: Food Standards Agency (FSA), UK.

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