There is a genuine interest from all age groups for healthy menu choices, and customers will choose green meals over amber, and amber over red, once they know the difference.
The entire summer menu of Phillip Island RSL’s Lone Pine Bistro now incorporates the Victorian Government’s Healthy Choices guidelines - This gives diners the option to choose meals based on a traffic light system, which classifies foods and drinks based on their nutritional value. Green indicates “best choice”; Amber indicates “choose carefully” and Red indicates “limit”. Diners are also able to check the kilojoules for each menu item.
Head chef Neil Douglas said, “More often than not, diners are looking for healthier options on menus. Earlier this year, we trialled the traffic light system with our seniors and kids and had an overwhelming response to continue it across all our menu items.”
“The response so far has been amazing! The majority of patrons now ask to have their selected sauce on the side with steaks; no dressing on salads and dropping chips in favour for more salad!”
The ‘Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice’ (MHCEC) project is a local partnership between Bass Coast Health, South Gippsland Hospital, Gippsland Southern Health Service, Bass Coast Shire.
The positive outcomes at the RSL have highlighted that:
- The majority of customers have a genuine interest in making healthy choices when eating out.
- Participation in MHCEC is a positive marketing tool that could provide a competitive advantage over similar businesses in the area while promoting healthy eating.
- Customers will purchase ‘green’ menu items over ‘amber’, and ‘amber’ over ‘red’ so working towards the standard at least 50% GREEN and no more than 20% RED targets in the food service industry is good for business.
- Integrating healthy options into a menu selection (by adding or tweaking menu items) plus providing a means to identify them (traffic lights and kilojoules) could broaden a customer base without compromising current patronage.
Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice is the future of healthy dining in South Gippsland and a positive response to community interest. Encourage your local restaurants and food services to get a head start by helping them focus on innovation and create partnerships with local food businesses.Submit your story!