Food Standards Scotland seeks views on out-of-home (OOH) eating

Food Standards Scotland (FSS) is inviting views from the public, the out-of-home (OOH) food sector and all interested organisations on proposals to give the people healthier options when they’re eating out.

The proposals are aimed at promoting changes towards healthier versions of our favourite foods. They also promote consumers’ rights to information about the food they buy, as well as proposing improvements to food aimed at children and young people when eating out.

Food outlets could have to clearly display to customers the nutritional content of each meal and also potentially limit the number of calories they are allowed to provide in one portion under options being considered in the consultation.

Launched this week, the consultation proposes measures that focus on calorie reduction across the sector with the aim of maintaining choice and availability of favourite foods. Proposals include smaller portion sizes, an increase in fruit and vegetables, provision of calorie and nutrition information for consumers, shifting the focus of deals and promotions from unhealthy to healthier options and the role of the public sector as the exemplar.

According to FSS, many out-of-home options are skewed towards less healthy choices, and large portion sizes, excess calories, added sugars and lack of fruit and vegetables can cause people to eat more calories than they realise or intend.

A recent Food Standards Scotland Food in Scotland consumer tracking survey shows “strong public support” for measures, such as displaying calories on menus (68%) and increased availability of smaller and half portions of standard-sized menu items (82%).

Ross Finnie, chair of Food Standards Scotland, said: “We recognise the out-of-home sector makes an important contribution to the Scottish economy, but it doesn’t always support a healthy diet.

“Our proposals aim to shift the food choices available when we’re eating out towards those that are healthier and have lower calories. We welcome suggestions on how businesses could lead the way to make the necessary changes.”

Public Health Minister Joe Fitzpatrick said: “Food Standards Scotland are exploring potential measures for changing the out-of-home sector. We are looking forward to engaging with all parties in this to improve the food and drink available outside the home and ensuring the changes made will be reasonable and proportionate.

“Through our Diet and Healthy Weight Delivery Plan, we are taking decisive action to deliver positive outcomes by helping to reduce serious health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease, which are commonly caused by eating a poor diet.”

The consultation will be open for responses until February 28, 2019. Responses will be used to provide recommendations to ministers for an Out of Home Strategy for Scotland.

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