Foodservice urged to be more transparent on nutrition

Out-of-home food businesses need to provide more comprehensive reporting on their nutrition credentials, according to the first assessment of the UK sector’s performance.

Research by the Access to Nutrition Initiative (ATNI) assessed 10 of the largest publicly listed companies in the out-of-home food sector in the UK – including McDonald’s, Burger King, Costa Coffee and Gregg’s – across six nutrition-related topics such as menu healthiness, responsible marketing and accessibility of nutrition information and labelling.

The greatest disclosure was found on menu healthiness with all 10 companies scoring on at least one of the three indicators, which included having a programme in place to introduce or expand healthier choices across UK outlets.

All but one company scored points on responsible marketing, however none of the companies scored on pricing and promotions which focused on the extent to which companies promote healthier products at an affordable price.

Reporting on governance, labelling and engagement with stakeholders and policymakers was described as patchier.

On an overall scale of A to E, the highest grade awarded to any company was the C grade awarded to both Greggs and McDonald’s.

The research drew solely on information in the public domain which ATNI described as “not comprensive” but a “useful first step” in understanding the nutrition performance of the sector.

ShareAction, the responsible investment NGO which supported the research, said the results showed that out-of-home businesses recognised their role in improving healthy diets. However it added that companies would need to implement health and nutrition strategies to improve the healthiness of their menus and demonstrate that they are responding to regulatory pressure and market trends.

ShareAction told Footprint earlier this year that foodservice businesses should expect to receive growing attention from both investors and campaigners over their health commitments.

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