Eating out and fatty food – the new smoking?

Pizza and takeaway - bad processed food

So the World Health organisation (WHO), dramatically announced that processed meats such as sausages, bacon and ham can cause cancer.  In fact, those who eat 50g of processed red meat a day – that’s around two slices of bacon – have an 18% increased risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Just last week, campaigners were urging families to reduce the number of times they eat out in a week, and of course, the proposed sugar tax, and Jamie Oliver’s crackdown on fizzy drinks, is rumbling on.

In the midst of all this, the PR losers are of course the restaurants and takeaways at our hungry beck and call. Fast food chains have long been vilified as they’ve grown in number over the last decade.  And now restaurants, which are frequented on more than a ‘treat’ occasion for many families, have also been called into question.

Of course, many restaurants are responding to this strain, offering healthier options – Pizza Express has a hole in the middle of some of its pizzas filled with rocket, and even McDonalds has been offering salads for years (though most people still opt for the Bic Mac).  Though for some savvy consumers, this may be seen as a ‘tick box’ option to keep the healthy eating police at bay.

However, those food outlets built on ‘goodness’ are the ones that can turn a negative story into a positive PR spin.  London has seen a dramatic increase in salad and juice bars in the last five years, with the trend towards superfoods encouraging their growth.

And while the long-term impact of the negative news surrounding eat out remains to be seen, restaurants, takeaways and the like certainly need to be thinking of ways to ride the mini PR storm. While many outlets and chains might think the spate of bad news doesn’t affect them, it’s worth taking heed of the tale of the Turkey Twizzler.  The doomed processed meat became the focus of Oliver’s wrath when he campaigned for healthy eating in schools, and we haven’t seen one since.

Halima Khatun

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