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Making an informed choice in the catering environment: what do consumers want to know?

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Abstract Background: 

Eating outside the home is common in the UK, but it remains difficult for consumers to make informed choices based on menu information. The present study examines the reported preferences for the provision of nutrition (salt, fat and energy) and ingredient information in six types of UK catering outlets. Methods: 

Participants completed a short postal survey, assessing their frequency of dining at specific catering establishments as well as their desire to see nutrition and ingredient information. Results: 

The responses from 786 adults aged ≥18 years (of whom 65% claimed to be ‘motivated to eat a healthy diet’) indicated that over 40% reported eating at a catering outlet at least once a week. Over half said that they would wish to see information on ingredients and the salt content of menu items at all venues. Preference for information on energy and fat content was less popular and varied in the range 42–56% for energy and 47–59% for fat. It is notable that 43% of respondents said they would welcome information on energy content of menu items in restaurants. Conclusion: 

A significant proportion of consumers wish to see information on the ingredients and nutrition composition on menu items for sale in UK catering outlets. Such information is likely to raise an awareness and understanding of healthy food choices and assist the population in making informed choices about healthy eating.

Keywords: catering; eating out; nutrition information

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Division of Medicine and Therapeutics, Centre for Public Health Nutrition Research, Dundee University, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee, UK 2: School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences, Robert Gordon University, St. Andrew Street, Aberdeen, UK

Publication date: December 1, 2009


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