The SA ranked the health of children’s food in 21 of the UK’s most popular high street restaurants, including five major pub chains, some of which were among the highest scoring for healthy children’s food.
Harvester and JD Wetherspoons charted second and fourth healthiest overall respectively, while Beefeater, Brewers Fayre and Hungry Horse ranked eleventh, fourteenth and sixteenth respectively.
The SA’s Out to Lunch Campaign was compiled in conjunction with an army of parents. The first list was published in 2013.
Many still failing
While the majority of the food businesses surveyed by the SA were serving healthy and UK-sourced produce, many were still failing, it claimed.
More than 65% of parents asked didn’t think children’s food in the foodservice sector was good enough.
Pre-mashed potatoes from Holland, fish fingers pre-cooked in Poland, chicken from Thailand, cheese from Australia and chicken products with more than 19 ingredients in them were found in some of the businesses on the list.
Fewer than half of the chains indicated where their food came from, while others were offering free refills on sugary soft drinks, the SA added.
Displaying bad practice
Although some chains were displaying bad practice, 10 served vegetable or salad portions with every meal – up from six in 2013 – and nine chains included information about where their ingredients came from – up from five in 2013.
Rob Percival, from the SA, said: “Adults expect to be offered real food and real choices in restaurants – we think children deserve the same.
“We’ve found some up-market eateries are designing menus [that make] healthy eating for children almost impossible and price is no guarantee of quality – our league table shows lower-cost restaurants are outperforming more expensive chains.”
Meanwhile, Percival highlighted Harvester as one of the chains that had made major improvements to its children’s meal options over the past two years. The Mitchells and Butlers-owned chain had risen three places up the list since 2013.
Change since 2013
Frankie & Benny's