Healthier meals are on the menu at Liverpool takeaways and restaurants thanks to a project to reduce salt and fat in meals.
The Eatright Liverpool Project aims to improve the long term health of people in the city by encouraging food outlets to cut the salt and fat levels in their meals.
Liverpool has high levels of ill health related to diet with 36% of the population aged 16 or over being overweight and 18% obese.
Research carried out by John Moores University into Chinese and Indian meals – the most popular takeaway meals in the city – found that cutting down on salt and fat could be done without significantly altering the taste.
A pilot project has seen seven takeaways and restaurants successfully introduce healthier meals and another 30 are looking to join them. Their “before and after” meals are tested for salt and fat content and those who have made significant reductions receive certificates to display and are highlighted on the Eatright website at http://eatright.liverpool.gov.uk/
One of the takeaways featured is Andy’s Fish and Chips in Lark Lane. Owner Andy Kattou said: “We have had the reduced salt and fat meals since August Bank Holiday and they have proved a real hit with our customers. They either cannot tell the difference between the old-style meals or actually prefer them. I would recommend that any takeaway or restaurant get involved with the Eatright Project.”
A resource pack has been produced which provides practical guidance. It contains factsheets on fat, salt and energy; information about portion sizes,along with sample recipes and information about cooking practices which can make a real difference – one takeaway reduced the fat content by nearly 90% in sweet’n’sour dishes by poaching chicken instead of deep-frying it.
Councillor Roz Gladden, Deputy Mayor and cabinet member for adult services and health, said; “This is a very important issue. Takeaway meals are really popular but they can contribute significantly to unhealthy diets. The message we are trying to get over is that your takeaway treat can taste just as good with a lower salt and fat content
“The research carried out by JMU shows that a 10% cut in salt, for example, does not significantly affect the taste of a meal but it can have a real impact on health.
“A lot of customers are looking for healthier choices and I am sure those food outlets which are able to show they are offering meals with reduced salt and fat will benefit.”
Sandra Davies Associate Director of Public Health, said; “This is an important piece of work, and we are pleased to have been involved. The work has succeeded in reducing the fat, sugar and salt content of some meals, without compromising on taste.
“This is important as high consumption of these ingredients leads to a number of health related illnesses. We now want to build on this work so that we can further support healthier eating. ”
There are about 280 takeaways and restaurants in the city which sell Chinese or Indian food. It is hoped that, as well as these joining in the project it will be extended to other styles of cuisines.
Eatright is managed by Liverpool Trading Standards and supported by the Liverpool Chinese Business Association and the Muslim Enterprise Development Service.
Here are aome examples of how fat and salt have been reduced in meals:
Chicken Green Pepper & Blackbean ( 41.9% fat reduction, 34.5 % salt reduction)
Chicken Kung Po (99.1 % fat reduction, 62.6 % salt reduction)
Chicken Curry (2 % fat reduction, 9.2 % salt reduction)