“DON'T FEEL restrained by the Government’s Responsibility Deal current pledges, unleash your own creativity in your quest to move the nutrition, health and wellness agenda on.” – that was the message to the foodservice industry from Dr Susan Jebb, OBE, the Chair of the Department of Health’s Responsibility Deal Food Network, who last week attended a Footprint Health & Vitality Special Interest Group meeting.
In a dynamic discussion, attended by representatives from some of the best-known names in the foodservice, services and hospitality industries, including Sodexo, Compass, Elior, CH&Co, Pret A Manger, Cirrus Inns, Nestlé Professional, Unilever Food Solutions, Brakes and 3663, Jebb commented that: “Good health is everyone's business and there is a huge opportunity for the foodservice industry to play a leading role in the transformational change that is needed to help improve diet - be that giving people the information they need to make healthy choices or by so-called "health by stealth" initiatives.
"I would urge foodservice operators not to see the Responsibility Deal pledges as a straight jacket. Don't let it obstruct ambition, rather use it as a platform to support innovation to achieve our common goal of encouraging and enabling consumers towards a healthier diet. Bear in mind that the Responsibility Deal is intended as an opportunity for a bottom-up movement, driven by those who know best about what shapes consumer choices – those operating in the industry. If the current labeling pledges are hard to implement in the varied and creative menus you offer, lets think of other ways to signpost consumers to healthier choices. The key issue is that progress is being made and companies start to think how they can maximize the chances of customers making the healthy choice – whether by default or by conscious selection.
“Ready made groups like the Footprint Health & Vitality Special Interest Group whose members are already engaged, doing pioneering work and who show a real willingness to make progress, have the potential to add real value and set standards to help the rest be as good as the best."
The Footprint Health & Vitality Special Interest Group is spearheaded by sustainability experts, Footprint, and chaired by nutritionist and media commentator Amanda Ursell. The group is made up of representatives from the whole foodservice supply chain and acts as a forum for the whole supply chain to exchange ideas and best practice, collaborating to ensure pan-industry engagement in the area of health and wellbeing.
Among those issues discussed by the group are how the foodservice industry should best approach calorie labelling, cut salt, and boost fruit and veg offerings and think again about controlling portion sizes to reverse the supersize trend perhaps through setting maximum serving sizes.
Charles Miers, Managing Director of Footprint said: “The lines between foodservice and the grocery retail industries are blurred when it comes to the health agenda and distinction in their operations has to be made. This group wants to have a collective voice and ‘walk the talk.’
“There is a general acceptance that there is scope for the foodservice industry to do more and this group is committed to working together to achieve that, whether that be reaching out to smaller operators to get them to come on board with the Responsibility Deal, educating chefs, or forging closer links with policy makers and regulators to improve understanding of the foodservice industry and the contribution it can make to health and wellbeing.”