We have developed The Eat Out Eat Well Award to reward caterers throughout Surrey who make it easier for their customers to make healthy choices when eating out. It has three levels – Bronze, Silver, and Gold, and it is open to all types of catering establishments including cafes, takeaways, sandwich shops, private schools and staff restaurants that are ‘broadly compliant’ in relation to food safety and food standards.
Why did you take it? What was the incentive?
The Department of Health White Paper ‘Healthy Lives, Healthy People’ proposes that public health improvement is to be driven locally by councils including involvement of the private sector. We wanted a scheme that ticked all the right boxes on government health priorities, was easy to administer and appealed to a whole host of different catering establishments. This scheme benefits both caterers by promoting their businesses and consumers by helping them make healthier choices when eating out e.g. less salt, sugar and saturated fat .
How did you do it?
Before the launch of the scheme, a Stakeholder Group was formed made up of the main partners. The group that meets on a regular basis was responsible for organising accredited nutrition training for assessors and a guide for partners on how the award should be delivered.
Assessments are generally carried out by Surrey County Council Trading Standards Service (SCCTSS), however, environmental health also help out when resources allow.
Initially, to build up membership we targeted existing members of the ‘Heartbeat’ award scheme run by environmental health and NHS Surrey. To help identify potential award achievers, environmental health officers are encouraged to supply SCCTSS with a quarterly spreadsheet of premises in their area, who are eligible for the award i.e. ‘broadly compliant’ in relation to food hygiene.
Premises are usually considered for an award at the time of a satisfactory routine food hygiene or food standards intervention. In addition, premises may also be assessed if requested by a proprietor.
Before the launch, a catering newsletter was sent to over 2000 establishments in Surrey informing them about the new scheme. Officers also completed questionnaires during visits (29 out of 34 caterers (85%) said they would welcome the new scheme). A leaflet about the award was then devised and distributed to caterers during inspections.
What did the businesses that you engaged with do? What was the incentive for them?
We now have over 150 establishments on board including a number of leisure centres, National Trust properties and a NHS Hospital. One of the establishments that joined the scheme was the Sandrock Pub and Restaurant in Farnham.
Carol Haime, Chef and co-proprietor of the Sandrock Pub & Restaurant, Farnham has said that “on weekdays, mains from the healthy options section can account for 75% of food trade”.
Another establishment is the Jalsha Indian Takeaway in Ashford. There are a number of items on his menu that are made without any butter, ghee or oil and the gravy is made from mainly tomatoes, curry leaves and touch of Indian spices and herbs.
Mr Islam says “Customers like healthy eating and coming back to my place. I advertise the healthy options on the menu both in shop and on the website and highlight what the ingredients used are. The feedback so far is positive. Many customers are coming back and recommending others to try the healthy options from our menu.”
If possible, what are the benefits/evidence of impact on your population of having taken this action? Please include (where possible) any statistics or quotes.
The scheme has potentially made safe healthier menu options more accessible to a large customer base (over 17,000 local consumers). The overall attitude towards the award was positive among providers and consumers. Participation in the award scheme had increased providers own personal interest in healthy eating and sense of responsibility towards their consumers. Further information is available in the evaluation report conducted by the University of Surrey.