Essex Healthy Eating Awards
The Essex Healthy Life
Healthy Eating Awards
Are you fed up with not being able to find healthy and nutritious food options when you eat out? That is all set to change as food outlets are being encouraged to apply for the Essex Healthy Life Healthy Eating Awards.
Who are these awards for and who makes them? The ‘Essex Healthy Life’ Healthy Eating Awards are made by the fourteen Essex Council’s Environmental Health Departments, which together make up the Essex Food Liaison Group. The Gold and Silver awards are for commercial food outlets that have made the effort to offer healthy food, or at least healthy options.
Why have them? The average child today has a shorter life expectancy than that of its parents, all because of the obesity problem. Reversing that statistic is a staggering challenge for society and its magnitude equals the effects of climate change in both social and economic terms. There is pain and misery associated with the medical side effects of obesity as well as with simply loosing that feel-good factor. The Food Standards Agency has been tackling the big food manufacturers to reduce salt, sugar and fat in pre-prepared foods. Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) are now tackling High Street and office caterers etc. who supply snacks or meals to the same customers on a regular basis. We want them to offer healthy food or at least healthy options and research has found that the publicity surrounding an award scheme is an incentive that some caterers respond to. If business operators are willing to serve and promote healthy food then we want to reward them!
What standards are required for Silver or Gold awards?
To be eligible for either award a food business must demonstrate adequate food hygiene standards. In addition, the criteria for both awards require that the business is committed to the following conditions:
- Keeping the level of fats and oils to a minimum in the food you serve, in particular saturated fat;
- Keeping the level of salt to a minimum in the food you serve;
- Keeping the level of sugar to a minimum in the food you serve;
- Making fruit and vegetables clearly available;
- Making starchy foods the main part of most meals;
- Providing healthy and nutritious food for children in places where children are served;
- Making sure that at least one third of the food you serve is clearly described as meeting healthy choice requirements i.e. are prepared using both healthier ingredients and cooking methods.
In addition the GOLD award requires commitment to
- Making sure that at least 50% of the foods served are clearly described as ‘healthy eating’.
- Meeting a series of specific requirements, under the above headings, such as removing fat from meat. These requirements (over 100) are listed in a Self Assessment Questionnaire.
- Having an appropriate sales promotion and marketing strategy which works alongside the general principles of the ‘Healthy Eating’ Award and supports healthier eating.
What does this mean for customers? EHPs hope that customers will increasingly look out for businesses with a Healthy Eating Award. In addition to the certificates that award holders will display, some Council’s are showing award holders on the ‘ScoresOnTheDoors’ web site www.scoresonthedoors.org.uk . This site is mainly to display hygiene standards but there is also a new healthy eating section which will grow with time.
If a café or deli owner has an award, why not have a chat with them? They might be able to provide ideas of how to cut down at home on the ‘less good foods’ and make healthy foods even more tasty and interesting. Good food can easily be simple and delicious. The world is your oyster!
Why not encourage your favourite restaurant to apply for the award?
More information can be found at www.essexhealthylife.org.uk
Healthy Life Essex is proud to be hosting the Essex HealthyLife Eating Awards website: (www.essexhealthylife.org.uk) on behalf of the Essex Food Liaison Group