Analysis of a Food Standards Scotland Public Consultation on Improving the Out of Home Food Environment in Scotland

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Following the publication of the ‘Scottish Government Diet and Healthy Weight Delivery Plan’, Food Standards Scotland (FSS) carried out a public consultation on ‘Proposals to Improve the Out of Home Food Environment in Scotland.’

The consultation, which ran for 14 weeks between November 2018 and February 2019, sought views on a range of measures to improve the Out of Home food environment in Scotland.

Jump/RedTree/SMG Research Consortium were commissioned by FSS to independently analyse the responses to the consultation and report on its findings. 

A total of 131 responses were received to the consultation, with an equal split between individuals and organisations.  Third sector and local government were the most common types of organisations responding, with small caterers and manufacturers least common.

The key findings of the report include:

  • Most respondents (90%) agreed to the proposed list of business types for inclusion in an Out of Home strategy. 
  • Respondents were in favour of reducing excessive calorie contents by changing recipes (79%), reducing portion sizes (73%) and ensuring the availability of single serve pack sizes (70%).
  • Fewer respondents were in favour of the application of maximum calorie (30%) or energy density limits (24%), and excluding high calorie items (24%).
  • Almost all respondents agreed that consumers should be able to access small or half portions (95%).
  • The majority of respondents (68%) were in favour of mandatory calorie labelling at the point of choice.  Although there was some concern around the impact this would have on small and medium sized businesses, the majority (61%) were not in favour of exempting any businesses.
  • Food businesses were asked what additional support they would require to provide calorie labelling on menus.  Training and support, financial aid or incentives, and expert assistance to support implementation were the main types of support called for.
  • Most respondents agreed with a wide range of proposed improvements to children’s menus , including increasing fruit and vegetables (88%), reducing sugary drinks (86%), providing children’s portions from adult menus (82%) and reducing reliance on chips (79%), and fried and breaded products (78%).
  • Most respondents (81%) agreed that a range of actions should be adopted by the public sector to support healthy eating OOH, principally on the grounds that the public sector needed to stand as an example of good practice.
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