Mid Ulster Hospital in Magherafelt was the first business in Mid Ulster, and one of the first in Northern Ireland, to be awarded a Calorie Wise Award at a seminar for local businesses on the new Calorie Wise scheme last week.
The scheme is being run in partnership with District Councils and The Food Standards Agency. It’s free, voluntary and open to businesses in the Mid Ulster area that meet the Calorie Wise Scheme criteria.
It is well known that eating too many calories can lead to obesity. Obesity can also increase the risk of some types of cancer, as well as increasing the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
With one in six meals eaten outside the home in Northern Ireland, businesses have an increasingly important role to play in the diet of consumers.
Calorie Wise aims to inform and enable people to make healthier choices more often when eating out, as well as encouraging food businesses to make healthier options more available.
The Mid Ulster District Council seminar provided help and advice to local businesses on how to make these changes.
The scheme asks businesses to display calorie information clearly and prominently on menus or menu boards, for standardised food and non-alcoholic drinks items. This will provide customers with the information they need to make heathier choices when eating out.
At the seminar Mark Irvine, Support Services Manager for Mid Ulster Hospital accepted the Calorie Wise Award and was able to share his experiences with other businesses, hopefully encouraging them to also participate in the scheme.
Chair of Mid Ulster Council, Councillor Kim Ashton commented:
‘I am delighted the Council organised this seminar in partnership with the Food Standards Agency and I would like to congratulate our first Mid Ulster business for its contribution to the scheme- well done to Mark on this remarkable achievement. With 6 out of 10 adults either over-weight or obese in Northern Ireland, schemes like this have the potential to make a real difference in improving the health and well-being of our citizens, ultimately enabling them to enjoy longer and healthier lives.”
Fionnuala Close, Senior Advisor for Dietary Health at the Food Standards Agency, added, “We welcome the Northern Trust’s commitment to supporting the Calorie Wise scheme which is a demonstration of positive thinking towards this approach. This is an excellent example of effective partnership working between agencies, and we believe it will provide staff and customers at Mid Ulster Hospital with clear energy information (in both kilojoules and kilocalories) to make healthier, more informed decisions about what they to choose to eat outside the home.”
Also speaking, following receipt of his Award, Mark Irvine from the Mid Ulster Hospital said: “Within the Northern Health and Social Care Trust there is on-going work to promote healthier eating amongst staff and visitors. With the introduction of Calorie Wise our customers can now make healthier choices through access to Calorie information displayed at all our points of service.
“By using the tools and information provided by the Food Standards Agency it is very easy to calculate the calorie content for any restaurant menu item. Customer feedback on Calorie Wise has been very positive and Staff and Visitors are already making alternative lifestyle choices.”
The Calories Wise Scheme for businesses also supports the recent Food Standards Agency campaign ‘Know your Calories,’ which aims to increase public awareness of the daily calorie recommendation of 2,500kcal for men and 2000kcal for women.
The Calorie wise scheme is open to any restaurant, takeaway, cafe, pub, sandwich shop, staff restaurant or any other outlet where you can eat out provided that the business can demonstrate how calorie information will be displayed in line with the scheme requirements.
For further information on how to join the scheme contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.