Healthier Catering Commitment

Healthier Catering Commitment

Takeaways, sandwich bars, cafés and other caterers in London are being encouraged to sign up to the Healthier Catering Commitment, a voluntary scheme which allows food businesses to apply for an award if they can demonstrate a commitment to offering healthier options.

The scheme operates on the principle that small changes can make a big difference.

The scheme is run by Haringey Council and is backed by both the Mayor of London and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH).

What are the benefits?

The scheme encourages caterers to reduce salt, fats and sugars in the food and drink they sell. Based on the ‘small changes make a big difference’ principle, businesses can achieve certification by meeting all or a significant number of 22 criteria which include careful ingredients purchasing, healthier preparation/cooking practices, smaller portions and healthier menu options.

As part of the scheme some simple changes include reducing frying times, switching to lower fat mayonnaise and milk, and using chunky fries instead of skinny fries. Businesses are also encouraged to provide healthy options which include fresh fruits and side salads.

Caterers who successfully meet the criteria are given a certificate and window sticker to promote their achievement in their premises. This also makes it easier for residents to identify which outlets provide healthier choices.

Food businesses in the past have found that participating in the scheme has helped to:

  • Increase the numbers of customers visiting the business
  • Increase secondary spending as people have remained on the premises longer

The scheme publicly recognises caterers who are seen to be:

  • Committed to promoting good health by providing a range of foods that meet customer demands for healthier choices
  • Committed to providing a good standard of hygiene and food safety by achieving a rating of three or above in the Food Standards Agency (FSA) Food Hygiene Rating Scheme

Why should food businesses join the scheme?

Eating well is an important factor in helping to reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and other lifestyle related health problems. Nearly half of all adults eat at restaurants or takeaways at least once a week, so food outlets are ideally placed to support people to make healthier choices and eat well.

This voluntary scheme is aimed at encouraging food outlets to reduce the saturated fat and salt content of their food, make smaller portions available and promote healthier alternatives.

In Haringey it has been well received by businesses as it has been delivered in a way which is not too onerous, saves money and does not compromise taste or trade. The businesses have also taken great pride in achieving their Healthier Catering status, the publicity that goes along with this (identifiable sticker in the door) and the knowledge that they are contributing to reducing chronic conditions related to being overweight or obese.

How is the scheme being implemented in Haringey?

The Healthier Catering Commitment is being implemented across twenty two boroughs in London by catering businesses in partnership with environmental health and public health teams. In Haringey the scheme has been rolled out in the Tottenham Regeneration Area which has high levels of deprivation, an over concentration of fast food outlets and high levels of obesity with children being 2.5 times more likely to be obese or overweight than children in the more affluent west of the borough. More recently the scope has been widened to include the Wood Green Regeneration area.

One of these businesses was chosen as a case study (external link) to demonstrate good practice and is included in a web based toolkit which was launched at City Hall a year ago.

Who is eligible to participate in the scheme?

Only compliant traders, who achieve the higher Food Hygiene Rating Score of 4 and 5, are chosen.

All types of catering establishments are are eligible to apply for the award under the scheme, including restaurants, canteens, cafés, takeaways, bars, pubs, sandwich bars, caterers and leisure centres. In Haringey fast food includes a variety of establishments with diverse menus such as African, Caribbean, Colombian, Chinese, Turkish, etc. Alongside this work links with schools to educate pupils, manufacturers/suppliers and chains to encourage them make changes to recipes are also being made.

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Page last updated:

December 21, 2022