A new league table has been revealed today (Wednesday 11 October) as part of Soil Association’s Out to Lunch campaign, ranking 25 of the UK’s most popular restaurants*. After recruiting an army of parent secret diners, widespread poor practice has been uncovered, with a number of chains failing to serve fresh food or healthy choices for children.
New research has revealed that some of the UK’s favourite mainstream chains rank as the unhealthiest restaurants for children to eat in, with 66 per cent of parents saying they don’t think kids’ food in restaurants is good enough.
Restaurants have a big role to play in influencing what children think good food looks like – going out used to be seen as a treat, but research shows it’s more common now with 40 per cent of parents eating out with their kids at least once a fortnight.
The report also reveals that restaurants are not doing enough to support British farmers – with restaurants serving potatoes grown in Egypt, apples grown in Canada, and a side salad containing ingredients sourced from 32 countries, including Madagascar, Russia, Malaysia, Argentina, Bulgaria, Nigeria, Turkey, India and Peru.
Despite widespread poor practice, the new Out to Lunch league table shows that children’s food on the high street has been radically improved since the campaign launched in 2013. There are now 13 chains that serve a portion of veg or salad with every meal (up from six chains in 2013) and 12 chains that include organic ingredients on the menu (up from six chains in 2015). In response to this year’s league table, two chains have committed to discontinuing free refills of sugary drinks on the children’s menu by March 2018.