Today’s strong focus on healthy eating should be reflected in corporate catering choices.
Here we consider initiatives and guidelines from state government health departments in providing healthier catering for business events.
Several state jurisdictions now use a “traffic light” system for categorising food choices.
“To help make healthy choices easier, food and drinks are classified according to their nutritional value: GREEN (best choices), AMBER (select carefully) and RED (limit).”—SA Health.
The guidelines from each state are binding for events organised by or for their respective state health departments. However they provide useful guidance for the corporate sector as well.
As expected, foods from the GREEN category are vigorously promoted in each set of guidelines. These should generally make up at least 50% of the items available at an event. Included are plenty of raw, wholemeal, or low-fat options.
The WA government’s Catering guidelines for functions, events and meetings explains each of the categories:
GREEN: Fill the menu
These are the healthiest choices because they are excellent sources of important nutrients and represent one or more of the five food groups needed for optimum health and wellbeing. They are low in saturated fat, added sugar and salt.
AMBER: Select carefully
These have some nutritional value but contain moderate levels of saturated fat, added sugar and/or salt and can contribute to excess energy intake. These need to be chosen carefully and eaten in moderation.
RED: Only occasionally
These are energy dense and have little nutritional value. Most are high in saturated fat, added sugar and/or salt and can contribute to excess energy intake. These should only be eaten occasionally.
In some states (Western Australia, Queensland) no items from the RED group can be provided at state health functions.
The WA catering guidelines includes a helpful table for swapping out the popular RED items for healthier GREEN choices. For example, swap the deep-fried potato chips, wedges and spring rolls, for toasted pita bread with salsa, or pesto dips; mini toasts with bruschetta topping; or sushi with lean, uncoated fillings or Vietnamese rice paper rolls.
While these state government policy documents don’t specifically mention issues like gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan choices, these are becoming almost standard at many large catered events. Some of the more common allergenic ingredients also need to be identified in clear labelling and alternatives provided.
You can read more about these state government guidelines here:
For your next catered business meeting or training session, why not check out Karstens’ extensive healthy choices.