Pub and restaurant chains are outperforming their supermarket counterparts in offering healthy, sustainable children’s meal options, according to the latest Out to Lunch league table.
JD Wetherspoon topped the Soil Association’s chart which ranks brands according to a range of measures including the number of portions of vegetables offered and a commitment to sourcing organic and high welfare meat and dairy.
The pub chain won praise for using organic and sustainable ingredients and serving lots of veg on children’s dishes.
Harvester, Wahaca and Leon also scored highly but at the other end of the table supermarket cafés from the likes of Tesco, Morrisons, Asda and M&S were accused of providing “irresponsible” meal options with Marks & Spencer Café serving no vegetables on its children’s menu, and Tesco Café serving no British meat.
The Soil Association said that even with an increase in fresh vegetables and organic food being served across the high street, many chains are still serving children unhealthy and unsustainable meals. This is despite 88% of parents saying that children’s food in high street chains isn’t good enough, and 70% saying environmental sustainability is important to them.
The survey also found chains, like Hungry Horse, offering excessively sugary puddings containing more than 50g of sugar. Some, such as Bella Italia and Giraffe, were found to be serving children single-use plastics, like cups and straws, while others like Las Iguanas and Café Rouge were “dishing up deforestation”, according to the Soil Association, by serving meat fed with uncertified animal feed whose production is responsible for wildlife loss and deforestation abroad.
“Out to Lunch has kick-started a veg revolution on the high street with more than a dozen chains committing to serving two portions of veg with every child’s meal,” said Hattie Shepherd, Soil Association policy officer. “But many chains are being irresponsible and failing to offer children the food they deserve.”