Workplace caterers commit to healthier food
About three million meals are eaten at work every day, two million of which are prepared by contract caterers, today, the Food Standards Agency publishes the first stages of activity to give
people across the UK improved access to healthier meals while they are at work.
The Agency believes that people should have the opportunity to choose food that is lower in salt, fat – especially saturated fat – and sugar, enabling us all to take control of what we eat and
take positive steps towards a healthier, balanced diet.
Over the past year, the Agency has been working in partnership with major caterers, ARAMARK, BaxterStorey, Compass Group, Elior and Sodexho, along with the two biggest food product suppliers to
the catering sector, 3663 and Brakes, to help them develop individual packages of commitments to provide healthier food for their customers at work. The five catering companies involved serve
1.5 million meals a day in the workplace and account for about 85% of the market.
Commitments have focused on the types of products and ingredients businesses buy, how dishes are prepared in the kitchen, the menu choices available, and nutritional information provided to
customers in work canteens.
Examples of the voluntary commitments that businesses are making cover a range of activities, such as:
■ swapping ingredients for lower fat, salt and sugar alternatives and making their use mandatory in all kitchens
■ developing databases of healthier recipes to help chefs plan menus
■ removing salt cellars from tables
■ offering smaller portion sizes for overly indulgent foods
■ increasing the number of workplaces that have a dedicated healthy eating programme
■ providing more training on healthy cooking techniques for chefs and managers
■ developing new customer information and promotional activities for healthy options
■ suppliers to go further with programmes of salt and saturated fat reductions in their products and build on support and guidance for caterers on healthy meal practices
Rosemary Hignett, Head of Nutrition at the Food Standards Agency, said: ‘Though we know people prepare and eat the majority of their meals at home, food eaten in the workplace does increasingly
make up an important part of our daily diet.
‘Meals consumed at work are often subsidised, they can account for at least one main meal per day – sometimes more – and in some cases employees are a captive audience with limited options.
‘We know the catering sector is a key area and this is an important step in the right direction. We strongly welcome the commitments these businesses have made, which will enable people to make
sensible choices about their diet, no matter where they eat. We’d like to see more businesses do the same and intend to develop this work further.’
Eating out is often a leisure activity but is also becoming part of our regular diet. The Agency intends to work with the full range of catering businesses to contribute to this work, in a way
that fits the style of their business and meets the needs of customers. The Agency will monitor the progress of this work and further details of this activity will be published throughout 2008.
The commitments that caterers are making are publicly available and the businesses involved will report back to the Agency on their progress on a six-monthly basis.