Healthier Choices is a free certification scheme that supports businesses who provide their customers with healthier eating options.

In North Yorkshire, 67.9% of the adult population is categorised as overweight or obese, where the national average is 63.8%. 

  • 15.7% of children aged 10-11 are obese.
  • 23.2% of adults are classified as obese.

(Source: Public Health England)

We are working with partner organisations to help combat obesity and its effects on people's wellbeing, as well as the strain it puts on health budgets.

This project complements that work by improving food businesses' awareness of health related issues, and by improving menus without losing taste or customer satisfaction.

You may already provide an array of healthier choices, or you may feel your business could make small changes to your menu to improve the healthiness of your meals. We would like to talk to you to see if we can help you, whether it's just to make suggestions as to how to improve your menu or offer alternative production methods that may save you money.

If you wish to be considered for the scheme, we will invite you to work with our project team who will assess your healthier choice activities against a variety of criteria. We will look at opportunities to make small changes that contribute to the improving health and welfare of customers. We won't ask you do anything that doesn't work for you and your business. This is a scheme that harnesses the enthusiasm of local businesses for local people (and visitors to the County).

Following the assessment we will determine whether you have achieved the gold, silver or bronze award. The award is a recognition of the healthier choices you already offer, or the changes you are willing to make. 

If you sign up to the scheme we will promote your businesses achievements through the website, social media and local facilities like libraries, leisure centres, GP surgeries and local radio.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are a number of benefits for businesses who take part in the scheme:

  • Offering healthier choices and smaller portions can encourage new customers.
  • You don't want to lose a group booking because a member of the party wants a healthier option that isn't available.
  • Considering alternative cooking methods and ingredients may save you money without necessarily affecting the great taste of your dishes.
  • We will help promote eligible businesses.
  • For businesses that struggle to identify possible improvements, we can help by inviting you to workshops to learn about opportunities and potential savings.
  • Making small changes can make a big difference.
  • This free scheme shows you are considerate to the needs of your customers and the community.
  • Achieving a high level would give a competitive edge over your rivals.

There are a number of benefits for customers:

  • Those customers who want to eat out, but are conscious of their health, have increased choice of foods and are informed of the options available. 
  • We all eat out. However, we don't all necessarily consider the content of the foods we are consuming. By showing a willingness to consider healthier choices you will increase customer confidence, thereby improving customer loyalty.
  • Offering healthier alternative allows those watching their weight to eat out and have a treat, but to go for a smaller option or a healthier choice.

We'd love to hear from you if:

  • you're passionate about your food and believe  it's important to provide healthier choices;
  • you wish to promote a healthier menu; you may already offer healthier options or are willing to make small changes; and
  • your business is food hygiene rated three or above. 

Further information on the National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme

The National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme provides consumers with information about hygiene standards in food businesses in order to help consumers make informed choices about where to eat out or shop for food.

If you have any queries about the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme more information is available here.

Food information requirements

Our trading standards team enforces a variety of legislation which ensures foodstuffs are not mis-described or misleading in any way. This may include the labelling and descriptions of pre-packed foods and its ingredients, the images of the food on offer or the composition of the product.

The Food Information Regulations 2014 specifies the need to inform customers of the prevalence of allergens by way of information on menus or packaging, or by displaying a notice to inform customers that they should ask staff for advice about which allergens your dishes contain.

Further information on the applicable legislation can be viewed here.

The level of the award is dependent on the extent of the healthier options that you provide, or pledge to provide in future. This assessment will be undertaken by one of the project team with your menu being compared against a range of criteria.

The criteria reflect that found in similar schemes which promote healthy eating such as Change4life and the School Standards which are maintained by all of the schools in the County. Most criteria offer a range of points in order to capture the varying extent of each participant's activities.

Before the assessment please use the following headings as a guide to consider where you may wish to make changes to your menu. 

Taking a balanced approach

  • Do you offer a range of portion sizes?
  • Can you increase the use of vegetables and salad in your meals?
  • Are children's meals nutritionally balanced?

Reductions and healthier alternatives

  • Could you remove trans-fats from your dishes?
  • Do you use lean meats or remove fat during preparation?
  • Is it possible to use low fat instead of full fat ingredients? E.g. cheese, mayonnaise.
  • Can you reduce the amount of salt used during preparation?
  • Consider removing salt shakers from the tables and only providing on request.
  • Can you promote low sugar choices over products high in sugar? E.g. desserts, sweets and carbonated drinks.

Frying and cooking methods

  • Can you reduce oil absorption by maintaining the quality of your oils?
  • Consider alternative cooking methods, for example grilling rather than frying.

Actively promoting healthier choices

  • Is it possible to provide water cheaper than fizzy drinks?
  • Do you promote local or national campaigns at your premises? E.g. change4life.
  • Do you and your staff actively promote healthier choices?

The nature of your business may not lend itself to each and every criteria. As such the attainment level is calculated by determining a percentage of the total points available to each business. If you have any questions please contact the project team. 

The award is valid for two years, however if you feel you can attain the next level of award within this period please let us know and we will happily reassess.

As with every scheme, there are terms and conditions with which we will ask you to comply. Businesses that don't will be removed from the scheme.

We appreciate some businesses will not be able to make enough changes to enable them to join the scheme as a certificated member.

We also recognise, there are suggestions, improvements and money saving tips that we can offer every type of business regardless as to whether they are on the certification scheme or not. As an alternative to signing up to the scheme we will be providing workshops to develop and discuss possible savings. Please contact us to find out what we can offer you.

This scheme is just one way to recognise achievements in reducing salt, sugar and fat in meals and drinks and to offer healthier choices, if you have used other means to achieve the same ends please let us know.