People spent a lot of their time at work and therefore get most of their food away from home and at worksite food service venues. Having healthy food available and providing detailed nutritional information helps employees make healthier food choices. If healthy food is not available or if the food is not clearly labeled with nutritional information, people may end up consuming foods that are higher in calories and lower in nutritional value. To aid in creating healthier food environments and shaping better food choices, legislation in the EU and the US is requiring worksite canteens and catering service providers to provide employees with nutritional information about each of their menu items.
Menu labeling is the practice of providing information about calories, fat, sodium, and other selected nutritional content for menu items at the point of purchase. Without menu labeling regulations, there is a small likelihood that organizations would voluntarily post nutritional information on each of their menu items. Menu labeling regulations have been driven by government policies to prevent and reduce obesity and to protect the health of consumers. Menu labeling has an impact on preventing diet-related chronic diseases.
The Role of Menu Labeling in Shaping Food Choices
Increasing consumers’ awareness of nutritional information affects consumer choices. Without nutritional information visible, consumers tend to underestimate the amount of fat and calories in the food they consume away from home. Menu labeling is thought to reduce the consumption of high-calorie items and may result in lower total daily caloric intake. There is evidence suggesting that labeling produces 10 to 20 calorie-per-meal reductions in food choices, but more studies are needed.
Menu labeling also has a positive influence on food service providers in that they may be less likely to promote unhealthy foods and instead emphasize healthier foods with high nutritional content on their menus. Menu labeling may also lead to food service venues reformulating their menu items.
How Resource Central Creates Healthy Food Environments & Workplace Wellness
Resource Central meeting and resource booking software features a catering module that allows catering service providers to enter and display nutritional information for their menu items. When organizers book their meetings and events through Resource Central, they are given clear and easy access to the caloric and nutrient content of the food and beverages available. Organizers can search for and filter menu items based on their nutritional qualities.
Catering service providers can label their menu items with the amount of calories, sugar, fat, etc. that they include. Other important nutritional information that can be provided include whether the items contain common allergens, like peanut, gluten, or shellfish. Foods can also be labeled if they meet certain dietary restrictions, such as Vegetarian, Halal, or Kosher. This feature makes it a lot easier for organizers to order appropriate food for participants when they book an event.