Healthier food choices for children are now on the menu at restaurants and cafes, following the launch this month of the Heart Foundation’s new ‘Kids Choice’ menu guidelines.
Heart Foundation Food and Nutrition Manager, Dave Monro, said the guidelines were developed after the organisation carried out a survey last year of children’s menus at various food service venues around New Zealand. “The results of that survey showed that there was plenty of scope for improving kid’s menus, by offering healthier meal options and doing away with unhealthy ones like deep fried dishes.”
Dave said the launch of Kids Choice also taps into a growing international trend towards dining out and increased demand by consumers for healthier meal options. “Additionally, many young children are developing sophisticated tastes, as they are increasingly eating out with parents at a young age.”
Dave said the guidelines have been developed to make it as easy as possible for food service operators to include healthy meal options for children. “They can actively promote this as a key point of difference, by using the Kids Choice brand alongside those menu items.”
To qualify for the Kids Choice recipe branding, one or more menu items needs to meet the guidelines. These include a range of things to support a healthy diet such as removing deep fried items and having half of the dish made up of vegetables.
“For those who want to go all the way with their menus, they can choose to have 50 per cent or more of their items meeting the Kids’ Choice recipe guidelines with the remainder of the menu meeting some less strict criteria. By doing so, they will be able to use both the Kids’ Choice and Heart Foundation logos on their menu.
“There are a wide range of menu options available to choose from or minor changes can be made to existing dishes, in order to qualify. The programme is completely free and includes support information, plus a spreadsheet for costing out recipes.”