Healthier Catering Commitment – London, UK

Key Insights

  • Award scheme for fast food takeaways
  • Supporting healthy menus and cooking methods
  • Making healthier food accessible to school children


London has high rates of child obesity, yet 25% of fast food takeaways are within walking distance of a school. In 2019 the Mayor of London supported the launch of the Healthy Catering Commitment scheme, that aims to prompt small changes to make menus healthier, often without the customer being aware. Participating businesses must meet at least eight out of 22 criteria (including four mandatory ones) relating to ingredients, nutritional profile, portion size and cooking method. The scheme has been adopted by 27 out of 32 London boroughs, and some research indicates an increase in customers for participating businesses.


This case study version is from the Menu of Actions (2019). Suggested citation: Halliday, J., Platenkamp, L., Nicolarea, Y. (2019) A menu of actions to shape urban food systems for improved nutrition, GAIN, MUFPP and RUAF.

Selling fruit in London (United Kingdom), Shutterstock/Abdul Shakoor

The action and its aims

The Healthier Catering Commitment scheme helps food businesses to make small but impactful changes to product offerings and cooking methods. Businesses can get the award if they meet at least eight out of 22 criteria (including four mandatory ones), ranging from sugar, to salt, to use of oils and fats, portion size, healthier options, etc. The scheme aims to ensure those meals are as healthy as can be, often without the customer realising that changes have been made.

When it was introduced

The scheme was introduced in 2010.

Why it was needed

It was deemed necessary due to the high level of child obesity in London. Some 25% of London’s 8,000 fast food takeaways are within five minutes’ walk of a school, while 20% of adults and children eat take away meals at home at least once a week.

Who initiated it, who is involved

The Association of London Environmental Health Managers developed the scheme, which is supported by the Mayor of London and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. It is delivered by the London boroughs on a voluntary basis, by their environmental health practitioners. Wholesaler JJ Foodservice offers a discount on certain healthier ingredients to participating businesses.

Impacts to date

27 of London’s 32 boroughs now run the Healthier Catering Commitment through their environmental health teams. Some research suggests that participating takeaways see an increase in customer numbers.

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