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Serving Up Healthy Menu Options at IFT 11

Consumers visiting some of their favorite restaurants will soon see more than just the daily special on the menu. Section 4205 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires restaurants with 20 or more locations to post calories to menus and menu boards and provide additional nutrition information upon request. The National Restaurant Association and market research firms have noted that consumers want more transparency about the food they purchase at restaurants and demand more healthful options. So how can the food industry work with the restaurants to supply healthier foods and ingredients? Join a panel of experts at scientific session 121, “What’s on the Menu? The New Federal Menu Labeling Law—Challenges and Opportunities,” (Monday, June 13, 8:30 a.m.–10:00 a.m.), during the 2011 IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo, June 11–14, New Orleans, La, to learn more about trends in the foodservice industry and how ingredient suppliers and chefs are working to increase fruit and vegetable offerings and reduce calories and added sodium and sugar.

Chefs and product developers working in the foodservice industry will find a variety of ingredients to help them improve the nutritional profile of foods and beverages at the IFT Food Expo. There are ingredients to help reduce sodium in soups, breads and breading used on chicken and fish but still maintain functionality and flavor. New oils that have zero grams of trans fat or less saturated fat are available, and some of these oils have high oleic contents and healthy blends of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Fiber and whole grains can be added to breads and pastas. Certain dairy-based ingredients can increase the protein content of certain beverages like smoothies. Many different sweeteners are available to help reduce added sugar in foods and beverages. The oils and other nutrients found in nuts and seeds provide added health benefits when used as toppings or inclusions.

What healthy or better-for-you menu items have you noticed at your favorite restaurant and how do they taste? If you are a chef, what have you done to improve the nutritional quality of restaurant food?

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