Can fast food become a healthy choice?

Lorraine Johnstone looks at a new food labelling initiative that could bring good news to the high-street consumer.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA), has collaborated with six fast food chains, Burger King, KFC, McDonald’s, Nando’s, Subway and Wimpy, in order to make eating out a healthier experience.

Each company has its own specific project, however all share the main aim of helping customers to ‘enjoy a healthier, more balanced diet’.

This will include working with their suppliers to ensure basic supplies are low in salt and saturated fats, reducing salt and saturated fat levels in produced products, particularly in best selling foods, increasing healthy options on the menu and particularly exciting for diabetics, making nutritional information readily available – allowing us to make more informed choices. Each company will update the agency after 6 months.

Rosemary Hignett- Head of Nutrition at the FSA says: “Eating out should be fun and we don’t want to change that, but we believe restaurants can help make it easier for us to take healthier choices when dining out. We hope that other restaurant chains will be able to emulate this exciting work.”
The FSA is continuing to develop the initiative and is currently liaising with Pub, Family Restaurant and Coffee Shop chains in order to obtain similar commitments to improving the dining out experience.

Take Away Food and Eating Out are growing industries – Subway, on average, opens five outlets each week and expects to open a further 600 new stores in the UK and Ireland by the end of 2009. It is important that such companies recognise the role they have to play in providing sound nutrition and giving us the knowledge that we need to manage our daily diet.

For further information on recommended daily allowances see:
“Know Your Labels” – A free download from Diabetes UK that can be printed out, folded to credit card size and kept in a purse/wallet.
Sources: The Food Standards Agency. Diabetes UK and written by contributor Lorraine Johnstone

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