The Catering Sector

Food consumed out of home makes a significant contribution to our daily diets with an estimated 1 in 6 meals being eaten out of the home. It is also often saltier than similar foods sold at retail . Therefore the catering sector have a huge role to play in helping consumer’s to reduce their salt intake to meet the 6g a day population target.For too long the out of home industry were left out of the salt reduction programme, stalling efforts made to reduce the salt intakes of many people in the UK.

In June 2012, the Department of Health and the Food Network announced separate pledges specific to caterers, in a bid to enable caterers and their suppliers to play a fuller part in salt reduction.  Three separate pledges were announced, to capture the potential for salt reduction in an area of the food industry which has thus far been left behind. The salt catering pledges, which focus on three key areas (training and kitchen practice, reformulation, and procurement) were designed to support the salt pledge, but also in conjunction with each other.

F5(a) Salt Catering: Training & Kitchen Practice
Signatories agree to adopt the following practices within a specified 2 year period, so as to achieve a minimum 15% reduction in their dishes.

Restaurant kitchen practice:
• vegetables and boiled starchy carbohydrates such as rice, potatoes and pasta will be cooked without added salt;
• our chefs will be provided with specific ingredient and salt quantities as well as equipment to control salt dosage so that we offer known and consistent salt levels in the foods we prepare.

Salt availability:
We will take active steps to encourage behaviour change among consumers to reduce the use of discretionary salt (e.g., by ensuring that salt is made available only at customers’ direct request).

Chef training:
We commit to train all of our chefs/staff on:
• the importance of salt reduction for heart health and for helping consumers meet recommended dietary intakes;
• awareness of foods or ingredients (such as stock, soy sauce etc.) which are high in salt or contribute significantly to the intake of salt;
• how to reduce the levels of salt in their dishes/items and encourage changes in consumer palates;
• developing menus which are lower in salt and include lower salt options.

To date (March 2015) - 15 signatories

F5(b) Salt Catering: Reformulation of Products as Purchased by the Customer
Signatories pledge to establish salt levels in all standardised products as they are offered to the final consumer, prioritising top-selling products where appropriate
Within 2 years of sign up and in accordance with EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation No. 1169/2011 (EU FIC) – we commit to providing information on the amount of energy, fat, saturates, sugars and salt for each standardised product, both on our website and in the menu information guides that are made available in our catering establishments. The information may be provided in the following formats: per 100g/100ml only; per 100g/100ml plus per portion; or per portion only. For the majority of dishes, information per portion would be most helpful to consumers.

To date (March 2015) - 10 signatories

F5(c) Salt Catering Procurement

Signatories pledge to meet the 2017 salt targets for at least 50% of the products we procure (by volume of products) by the end of 2017 and will report on progress year on year.

To date (March 2015) - 9 signatories

Unfortunately, sign up to these pledges has been disappointing. The out of home sector play a huge role in the amount of salt we eat, and more interest from restaurant chains and popular eating establishments is vital if this area is ever going to catch up with other retailers and food manufacturers. With this in mind, the Department of Health have recently (March 2014) created a separate set of targets for the catering sector:

F10.  Out of Home Maximum per Serving Salt Targets
“We recognise that achieving the public health goal of consuming no more than 6g of salt per person per day will necessitate further action across the whole food industry, Government, NGOs, and by individuals. We will support and enable customers to reduce their dietary salt intakes by committing to meet all relevant maximum per serving salt targets within 2 years of signing up to this pledge.”

Targets have been developed for 11 food categories (24 sub categories), based on the ten most popular food groups purchased in the out of home sector with the addition of a specific target for children’s meals. Businesses should aim to meet these targets within 2 years of signing up to this pledge. 

To date (March 2015) - 7 signatories