Should pubs be encouraging more healthy eating?


Should pubs be encouraging more healthy eating?

Should pubs be encouraging more healthy eating?

In an age where government, the media and almost every other aspect of society is putting
pressure on people to be healthier, it is understandable that all providers of food are being placed in the spotlight.

When the government rolled out the
Responsibility Deal, the intention was to tap into the potential for businesses and other influential organisations to make a significant contribution to improving public health by create a culture of healthier eating, drinking and behaviour.

The previous health secretary,
Andrew Lansley, was a big supporter of the deal, but since the recent cabinet re-shuffle, there is a feeling that
Jeremy Hunt is less keen, and as such pressure has been taken off certain organisations - including pubs - to do their bit to provide customers with the healthiest possible options, or at least inform them about the
calorific content of what they are eating.

A survey of 300 restaurant-goers carried out by The Mystery Dining Company last year found that 63 per cent of people regularly check the calorie information on products that they purchase to consume at home. Furthermore, 71 per cent would be likely to look at nutritional information on menus when eating out of home either some or most of the time.

The issue was recently highlighted by Kate Nicholls, strategic affairs director at the Association of Licensed Retailers, who told the
Morning Advertiser that an easing of the pressure on pubs may be a good thing in some respects.

The focus will likely be shifted to the suppliers who provide the food in the first place and ensure that
healthy food is being produced at the start of the supply chain.Furthermore, the suggestion that pubs may be forced to place calorie information on the food they serve has also been postponed - something Ms Nicholls welcomed.

This is despite the Mystery Dining Company survey showing that 68 per cent believe calorie information would impact what they ordered when eating out, while half would change their ordering behaviour if nutritional information was included on a drinks menu.

However, to what extent should pubs be responsible for encouraging healthy eating and drinking?

As venues that rely on people consuming beverages - mainly alcoholic - it is about finding the right balance between retaining custom and giving out the right message. Although introducing offers on meals is one way to pull people in, Ms Nicholls says that this tactic may be the next thing in the government's sights - and pubs need to be made aware of it.

"They are taking the pressure of us, and they are taking the pressure of calorie labelling and more into healthy eating and calorie reduction, which is a far easier target for us to get to grips with," she explained. However, it's not quite clear what will happen to the Responsibility Deal now we've lost Andrew Lansley."

The coming months are likely to see a change in the government's approach to getting the message of the deal across, but how this is carried out is yet to be seen.

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