Children's Menus - treats doesn't have to mean trash...

Children's Menus - treats doesn't have to mean trash...
Maggi

Maggi

Standard Supplier 24th October 2013

Children's Menus - treats doesn't have to mean trash...

Susan Gregory, Nestlé Professional’s Head of Food, talks children’s menus and how ‘treat’ doesn’t have to mean trash…
Children’s menus have been thrust into the media spotlight in recent weeks.  First a report by Organix and the Soil Association[1] found that 8 out of Britain’s 21 leading restaurant chains do not include any vegetables in the majority of their children's meals, and only 11 out of the 21 could say whether the food was freshly cooked and where it came from.  Then we heard that Annabel Karmel, a leading child nutritionist, has been forced to remove the word ‘healthy’ from a kids menu she devised for retail giant BHS after complaints that it included burgers, ice cream and chips.[2]
With one in three British children now overweight by the time they leave primary school[3], one thing is clear,  it is time for the restaurant industry to start making some changes…
We could learn a thing or two from the continent.  In Italy, kids simply have smaller portions of adult meals.  End of.  No further discussion.  Even pizzas are child sized and it is not uncommon to hear a 4 year old order a pizza with black olives…!  The same applies to many restaurants in London’s SW17.  Tooting is home to some of the best curry houses in the capital, which are always packed with families where children have smaller portions of whatever their parents have ordered – there are no fried chicken nuggets or burgers in sight…
The challenges we are facing are huge.  With obesity running rife, we have to find healthier choices for children and give them a wider taste for fresh, healthy food from a young age.  Social etiquette needs to be addressed too - kids should be welcomed into restaurants but clearly on the basis that their parents don’t let them run riot.
The Soil Association’s ‘Out to Lunch’ campaign[4] is doing a good job in leading the way and is calling on all high street restaurants and pubs to offer young diners child sized portions of adult meals.   We have yet to see the long term results, but at the very least, this is a great start…‘Treat’ doesn’t have to mean trash and restaurants need to raise the bar and listen to parents who are saying they want fresh food, not ready meals, for their children.
 

[1] The Soil Association ‘Out to Lunch’ campaign, July 2013, www.soilassociation.org/outtolunch

[2] The Times, 6th August 2013

[3] The Telegraph, 16th July 2013

[4] www.soilassociation.org/outtolunch