The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has confirmed it is in talks with hospitality operators about putting in place clearer standards on sourcing, preparing and planning healthier menus for customers.
In January, the FSA agreed a set of commitments with caterers Compass Group, Sodexo, Aramark, Elior and BaxterStorey, plus suppliers Brakes and 3663, to reduce salt, sugar and saturated fat levels in workplace meals.
The next stage of this process has been to open talks with "the major companies" in a number of different parts of the sector, including pubs, restaurants and fast-food chains.
Last week the FSA told Caterer it supported a compulsory nutritional labelling policy that has been introduced in New York, although it stressed there were no plans to introduce the measure in the UK.
The latest talks are about companies offering a greater range of healthier options and making incremental changes, according to an FSA spokesman. "We think that companies of all types can contribute here - by co-ordinated actions covering the ingredients they buy, their kitchen practices and their menu planning, as well as the information they provide to their customers," he said.
The FSA has also conceded its traffic light system of food labelling may be too blunt an instrument for the hospitality trade, despite being embraced by operators such as Yo! Sushi.
"The traffic light approach was developed for the retail industry and though we have seen that it can be practical in some catering outlets, we realise there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach for what is a very diverse sector," the spokesman said.
The statement was welcomed by the British Hospitality Association, which has warned that a traffic light approach was wholly unsuitable for food service operators.
Read more on healthy eating at www.caterersearch.com/healthyeating
By Nic Paton
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