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Healthier Eating For Public Sector Workers, Patients

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

A new kite mark will be developed for public sector canteens that provide nutritious food and encourage healthier eating, the Prime Minister announced today.

As part of a Food Matters - Towards a strategy for the 21st Century, the Government wants to support the public sector to lead the way in healthy eating by providing healthier food in their canteens. A 'Healthier Food Mark' will signal those public sector canteens that provide healthy, nutritious food to its staff and those in its care.

The new mark will be awarded to catering companies who serve the public sector if they meet certain criteria. The criteria will include:

* the design of menus - providing nutritionally balanced, appetising and enjoyable menus built around choice and variety

* sourcing ingredients that are lower in saturated fat, salt and added sugar

* preparation and presentation of food, including portion sizes

* procuring environmentally sustainable food

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The Government recognises that nutrition is important for all patients, and considers it a priority issue. Last October, The Department of Health launched the Nutrition Action Plan. This sets out that, by working together, at both a national and local level, we can ensure that in the future nutrition is given a much higher priority in the NHS and social care system.

Alongside this, the Government is committed to supporting people to make healthier choices about food, including in their workplace. Almost a third of all meals served by caterers in the UK are served in public sector institutions. Around one million meals are served to NHS patients and staff each day alone.

Adoption of the mark will be voluntary. Its aim is to support those public sector institutions who wish to provide healthier, nutritionally balanced food - not to enforce new burdens on them.

Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said:

"Our ultimate aim is for healthy food to be the norm across England - in hospitals, care homes, prisons and in all public workplaces across the country and to ensure that patients are well fed.

"The public sector have a duty to look after their staff and people in their direct care, such as patients and prisoners, so it's essential we serve up healthy and nutritious food."

The public sector has a particular duty of care for children. That is why a transformation in the quality of food is already underway in schools. This is the part of the public sector where a fully integrated system is in place and mandated to deliver good food in support of a balanced diet.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families has already put in place more than 650 million pound ring fenced investment by 2011 to raise nutritional standards; ensure better teaching of nutrition, diet and practical cooking skills in class; improving kitchen facilities and improving overall take-up.