The hospitality industry has now had several months to digest the impact of the Responsibility Deal, the Government's latest initiative to improve public health. Still, misconceptions prevail around what the industry's response should be.
The deal comprises core commitments for action on food, alcohol, behavioural change, physical activity and health at work. Diet-related illness places a huge burden on the NHS. Direct costs are thought to be over £4bn a year and rising. Factor in the results of inactivity and alcohol abuse and the costs are as high as £8.7bn. As the deal states: "public health is everyone's business. We aspire to good health and yet we persist in behaviours that undermine it".
Though the deal is a voluntary scheme, the spectre of regulation hangs over the food service and food supply industries if their response is deemed inadequate. But how should responses vary from sector to sector? And are there business benefits to promoting healthier eating and healthier living?
If you listened carefully at the Caterer and Hotelkeeper Nutrition and Wellness Seminar hosted earlier this month in association with Britvic Soft Drinks and Quorn, you could hear the sound of misconceptions being shattered. Delegates heard that there is a genuine and growing consumer demand for the menu labelling called for in the deal. They learnt that this labelling only applies to dishes appearing on a menu for several weeks. Best of all, they were reassured that the Government is simply looking to operators to enter into the spirit of the deal and take steps that are appropriate for their market and style of operation.
That this advice came from the likes of Dr Susan Jebb, who chaired the group responsible for drafting the food pledges in the deal, and the BHA's food and technical affairs advisor John Dyson, made it all the more compelling.
To view highlights of Caterer's Nutrition and Wellness Seminar, go to http://www.caterersearch.com/video" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">www.caterersearch.com/video
Mark Lewis, Editor, Caterer and Hotelkeepermark.firstname.lastname@example.org