Caterer and Hotelkeeper recently brought together a selection of industry experts to discuss the issues and benefits of aligning hospitality businesses to the Public Health Responsibility Deal. Janie Stamford reports
Restaurants, pubs and caterers have been urged to sign up to the Government-backed Responsibility Deal to improve public health if they want to avoid mandatory regulation.
The Nutrition and Wellness Seminar, in association with Britvic Soft Drinks and Quorn Foods, chaired by Caterer editor Mark Lewis, saw hospitality heavyweights including John Dyson from the British Hospitality Association and Dr Susan Jebb, chairman of the Food Network, discussing the financial benefits of promoting healthier eating and drinking.
Operators including Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of Leon, and Andy Cook, head chef at the Savoy Grill, were also on-hand to examine the challenges of implementing the responsibility pledges effectively.
In a presentation entitled "What's in it for us? How operators can benefit from demonstrating commitment to improving public health", Jonathan Doughty (pictured), group managing director of Coverpoint Catering Consultancy, introduced delegates to the idea that the threat of legislation isn't the only reason to support health secretary Andrew Lansley's Responsibility Deal.
There has been a great deal of focus on the possibility that Government may impose regulation if it considers the hospitality industry's efforts to support its ambition to "address public health problems associated with poor diet, alcohol and a lack of exercise" to be somewhat lacklustre.
Doughty described self-regulation as an opportunity for industry to "do it your way" first and urged businesses to comply. He said: "There is strong evidence that consumers want the information and the spectre of Government legislating, in the way it is in the US, means there is a really good reason to do it," he said. "Demonstrate your commitment, talk about it, publicise it, and make sure your consumer knows about it. Over deliver if you can."
He went on to reveal evidence that there is genuine consumer demand for menu-labelling, referring to research by US consultancy Technomatic that found 43% of Americans want calorific menu information.
However, while there is a customer-driven reason for calorie labelling, there is very little evidence that this actually changes consumer choices, he said.
"We often say things about our habits that are a wish list rather than a reality, but what is the harm in providing the calorie information?"
But the important question of financial benefits remained: is there money to be made from developing a healthier food offer and displaying nutritional information?
Doughty said the case for increased turnover is very tenuous but added that it is key to create repeat customers by responding to their needs and wants. "At the moment, this is all about information."
For more details visit www.catererconferences.com/nutritionandwellness2011speakers Jonathan Doughty, group managing director, Coverpoint Catering Consultancy, and outgoing chairman, Foodservice Consultants Society International (FCSI) UK & Ireland â- Rob Kirby, chef director, Lexington Catering â- Andy Cook, head chef, Savoy Grill â- John Dyson, food and technical affairs advisor, British Hospitality Association â- Dr Susan Jebb, chairman, Food Network, and head of nutrition and health, Medical Research Council â- Mark Linehan, managing director, Sustainable Restaurant Association â- David Mulcahy, craft and food development director, Sodexo UK & Ireland â- Nigel Connor, head of licensing and regulations, JD Wetherspoon â- Iain Donald, operations director, Individual Restaurant Company â- Henry Dimbleby, co-founder, Leon â- Elaine Gardner, independent dietician, on behalf of Quorn (Marlow Foods) what the experts thought - key comments "The Responsibility Deal is trying to strike a fine balance in recognising that eating is a voluntary activity. People make their own decisions about what they're going to eat and drink. But those choices are shaped by the food that is available." Dr Susan Jebb, chairman, Food Network "The catering industry is not the retail or manufacturing industry. It's completely different. There is a lot of information that needs to be obtained from suppliers to achieve the sort of information that customers want." John Dyson, food and technical affairs advisor, British Hospitality Association "No one really goes to somewhere like the Savoy Grill for a low-calorie meal." Andy Cook, head chef, Savoy Grill "Portion sizes are a factor. The average restaurant throws out nearly half a kilo per person and a third of that is plate waste. Forget for a moment the issue of where that ends up - that amount of food waste is costing the restaurant at the start of the process when they buy it and at the end of the process when they pay to have it taken away. That suggests they're serving too much food." Mark Linehan, managing director, Sustainable Restaurant Association "The food service has generally been embracing all of this for a number of years because we have the luxury of having the same customers daily in some of our premises. The Responsibility Deal helps us demonstrate what we've already been doing." David Mulcahy, craft and food development director, Sodexo "The Press Complaints Commission said recently that voluntary bodies make really bad regulators. I don't have much hope for the three principles we're trying to achieve. We need a stronger stick to beat us with." Henry Dimbleby, co-founder, Leon "It's excellent to get calorie content on menus but it's important to know what to do. You need an experienced eye." Elaine Gardner, independent dietician, on behalf of Quorn "The worst scenario for me, and for the industry I believe, is a "do nothing" policy. This is not what the consumer appears to want, it is not what Government wants and others will show you up pretty quickly, which the press will have a field day with." Jonathan Doughty, managing director, Coverpoint Catering Consultancy We get feedback from our customers that they want healthy options on the menu, that they want that information, and we are meeting that demand. Nigel Connor, head of licensing and regulations, JD Wetherspoon We talk a lot about educating the public but its also about educating your staff. We've trained all our staff but we've also invited our clients to take part in our workshops. Rob Kirby, chef director, Lexington Catering Traditionally chefs have been very ignorant about this whole subject of health and wellbeing. But there's a massive opportunity for us to engage with our customer and better understand this within the business. I've had a kick up the backside to think more about this subject. Iain Donald, operations director, Individual Restaurant Company responsibility deal pledges 1 Out-of-home calorie labelling If you sign up to this pledge you will provide calorie information for food and drink on offer outside of the home from 1 September 2 Commit to a salt reduction A 15% reduction in the salt targets in 2010, for the end of 2012 3 Removal of artificial trans fats Remove trans fats by the end of 2011 why business needs to take note of health agenda â- Type 2 diabetes rising - three people will be diagnosed with the disease every 10 minutes â- The hospitality industry serves one in every six meals consumed in the UK â- 51% of consumers claim that healthier eating now forms part of their overall approach to eating out \* â- 37% of consumers have made a conscious effort to eat more healthily when eating out of home \* â- 58% of consumers agree that there aren't enough healthy options available \* \*\* Allegra Strategies Healthier Eating report, 2011* Elaine Gardner, dieticianJoin the debate: Will you be adding Calories to your Menus? Go towww.caterersearch.com/tabletalk](http://www.caterersearch.com/tabletalk) Watch the Video at [www.caterersearch.com/video](http://www.caterersearch.com/video) ![Tony Davison](https://cdn.filestackcontent.com/cNj6hSiCTymfrXzxPBXo)sponsor's comment Our industry is just weeks away from the second phase of the Responsibility Deal - which asks suppliers and outlets to provide calorie information on all food and drink from 1 September. Health and nutrition is becoming more prominent in our industry - and it's here to stay. It's certainly at the heart of the work we do at Quorn Foods. Over the last two decades, we've done so much with the education, B&I and pub sectors to ensure healthy eating is at the heart of hospitality. Our team of home economists support caterers with recipe ideas, promotions and show different ways that our Quorn range can be prepared and presented. Essentially, we work with caterers to find the tailored solution to help them develop the right nutritional-based meals that will benefit their customers. And that's what's important to us. Tony Davison, commercial manager food service, Quorn Foods E-mail your comments to [Janie Stamford](mailto:email@example.com@rbi.co.uk) here. [![Tabletalk](https://cdn.filestackcontent.com/0hcj0CnkR0aZyARLgtEs)](www.caterersearch.com/tabletalk)If you have something to say on this story or anything else join the debate at Table Talk - Caterer's new networking forum. Go to [www.caterersearch.com/tabletalk](http://www.caterersearch.com/tabletalk) Caterersearch.com jobs Looking for a new job? Find your [next job here](http://www.caterersearch.com/jobs) with Caterersearch.com jobs