Food Standards Scotland calls for urgent action on eating out in Scotland

18 October 2016

Food Standards Scotland (FSS) today (19 October 2016) published its latest diet and nutrition paper Diet and nutrition: update on setting the direction for the Scottish diet’, which highlights the need for urgent action to improve food and drink eaten outside the home for both adults and children in Scotland.

FSS is calling on caterers and other out of home providers to recognise the impact of their sector on Scotland’s diet. A new report published today supports the call by showing that eating out in Scotland has increased and is still skewed towards less healthy options.

In particular, the report indicates that less healthy food and drink such as beef burgers, chips, fried chicken, ice cream and sugary drinks were more likely to be consumed by children in Scotland, compared to what is consumed by adults in Scotland and children in the rest of Great Britain.

This report confirms that the out of home sector has to be part of the solution to tackling obesity and FSS is seeking co-operation from this sector to introduce a number of measures to help combat high fat, salt and sugar in food and drink, including changing recipes (reformulation), reducing portion sizes, providing more consumer information (such as calorie labelling), improving children’s options, and reconsidering marketing and advertising approaches.

Given that obesity levels in Scotland are projected to reach 40% by 2030 all sectors, including providers of food and drink consumed outside the home must play their part to improve Scotland’s diet.

Food Standards Scotland Chief Executive Geoff Ogle, said:

“The big challenge is that the nature of the food and drink consumed out of home in Scotland is still skewed towards less healthy choices. As well as encouraging individuals to choose healthier options when eating out, it is vital that businesses also play their part, through reformulation of products to reduce calories, fats, sugars and salt, reductions in portion sizes and less promotion of products that are high in fat, sugar and salt. Otherwise 40% obesity levels in Scotland is going to be a certainty.

“We are pleased with the increased positive engagement between Food Standards Scotland and the retail and manufacturing sectors over the last six months, and I now look forward to further engagement with providers of food and drink eaten outside of the home.

“This latest report and our recent Consumer Tracking Survey shows the majority of people in Scotland are aware of healthy eating recommendations*, but do not follow them. This raises the question around how much more of a wake-up call do we need to improve the Scottish diet so that everyone in Scotland can have a healthier future?

“Collectively, individuals, Government and industry have to take responsibility and agree that action is essential, and the debate needs to move to getting on with delivering effective solutions. Whether it’s retail or out of home, the cumulative impact is that we are buying and consuming too many unhealthy options, and it’s bad for our health.” 

Food Standards Scotland Chair Ross Finnie said: “It’s only natural to treat ourselves from time to time, and enjoying eating out and socialising brings friends and family together. However change is needed now to make sure that we are all provided with and encouraged to eat healthier food when eating out.”

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