Mayor leads healthy takeaway revolution
- Up to 40 fast food takeaways within half a mile of schools in some London boroughs
- Just one portion of chips can contain 69g of fat, the total recommended amount of fat to be consumed in a day, according to latest research1
- There are currently no laws to prevent new takeaway restaurants from opening, so the Mayor is trying to change the food that they sell
500 fast-food takeaways in the capital have signed up to an initiative that encourages them to sell healthier food, the Mayor of London announced today.
The Mayor also revealed that JJ Food Service, one of the largest suppliers of food to takeaways, is now promoting the Healthier Catering Commitment to the 13,000 restaurants they count as customers. JJ will encourage them to buy healthier ingredients and cooking products, meaning a potentially huge change in the food that takeaways across London sell to their customers.
Recent research in Tower Hamlets revealed one fast-food takeaway selling a portion of chips totally 1865 calories, 93% of daily recommended intake, and 69g of fat. Their research showed that portion sizes are increasing as takeaways compete for custom.
Poor eating habits are widely regarded to be one of the main causes of obesity. Londoners living or working close to clusters of takeaway outlets are twice as likely to be obese and more likely to eat unhealthy food2 Over half of the adult population in London is either obese or overweight . In young Londoners, one in five is obese and one in three is either obese or overweight.3
Since 2012, the Mayor has supported Environmental Health and Public Health teams to deliver the Healthier Catering Commitment for London. 500 restaurants in 22 boroughs have signed up to the voluntary scheme that incentivises food outlets to make small changes to improve the quality of the food they sell.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, said: “It is terrible that as a city, and indeed as a nation, we are getting fatter. Throughout my mayoralty I’ve invested in grassroots sports and food programmes to get Londoners healthier and fitter, but we still need to do more to tackle our expanding waistlines.
“Life in a busy city means that we inevitably enjoy fast food, whilst takeaway businesses make a great contribution to local economies and this scheme ensures takeaway food can be a healthier option.”
Rosie Boycott, Chair of the London Food Board said: “Getting JJ’s on board is a massive step forward for the Healthier Catering Commitment and I am encouraged that they are taking a lead to change the terrible health outcomes of so much of London’s fast food.
“However, I would like to see even more changes to how takeaways operate. In some parts of the capital there are up to 40 fast food takeaways within half a mile of schools and many of them entice children by cutting their prices at school leaving time. Sadly, we can do nothing to stop that and at the moment all action is voluntary, but this must change in the future.”
To help make London’s takeaways healthier, supplier JJ Food Service will offer a 10 per cent discount off five Healthier Catering Commitment items for a full three months to customers who are signing up to the Healthier Catering Commitment food award.
Terry Larkin, Group General Manager, JJ Food Service, said: “We are delighted about our partnership with the London Food Board and the Healthier Catering Commitment. Through making some changes to the menu as well as increasing healthier options available, we want to encourage fast food businesses to purchase healthier products which, in turn, we hope will have a positive impact on what customers eat.”
The Mayor’s Healthier Catering Commitment (HCC) is a voluntary scheme for food outlets in London to encourage them to improve their food offering. Participating restaurants, such as the Valley café in Charlton, are awarded with the HCC logo.
Mehmet Manyera, owner of the Valley café a HCC registered business, said: “At Valley Café, we are working with the Healthier Catering Commitment and are applying it to the way we prepare and cook our food. The café is really busy and doing well and we are delighted”.
The Healthier Catering Commitment is just one of the Mayor’s initiatives to get Londoners eating good quality, affordable food:
- In 2012 the Mayor produced the Takeaway Toolkit to help boroughs work with takeaway businesses to make food healthier, as well as with schools to reduce the amount of unhealthy food children consume from takeaway food shops.
- The London Healthy Workplace Charter, coordinated by the Greater London Authority, provides the framework to support employers to develop good practice by promoting health in their organisations in a practical way.
- The Mayor's Healthy Schools scheme supports pupils to make healthy food choices and be more active.
- The London Food Flagship programme has established two Food Flagship boroughs, Croydon and Lambeth. Using the School Food Plan as a critical foundation, the Flagships will demonstrate the transformational impact on health and attainment achievable through improving food across the whole environment, using schools as a catalyst to drive this change. While there will only be two Flagships, the initiative is intended to impact all of London. By investing to transform the food system in two concentrated areas, the benefits will be learnt and shared across the whole city and beyond.
- The double-value fruit and vegetables scheme, delivered by Alexandra Rose Charities, supplies vouchers to low income families to access more healthy and affordable food. Families are able to redeem the vouchers at fruit and vegetable stalls at local markets. Pilots took place in Hackney and Greenwich and this is now being rolled out across other parts of London including the Food Flagship borough of Lambeth. The scheme has been adapted from the USA and brought to the UK with the support of the Mayor’s Food Team.
- In January 2016 City Hall, the home of the Greater London Authority, introduce a 10p charge on all added-sugar soft drinks sold in the building’s café, with proceeds going to health campaigns.
Notes to editors
- London Borough of Tower Hamlets Research
- Cambridge’s Centre for Diet and Activity Research
Although the Mayor has no planning powers to prevent takeaways from opening, he works closely with Boroughs to ensure they take all positive and negative impacts into consideration during the planning process.
For more information on the Mayor’s Healthier Catering Commitment, go to http://www.cieh.org/healthier-catering-commitment.html