Food businesses from restaurants and takeaways to pubs and cafes are being encouraged to promote healthier eating by becoming members of a new scheme called Heart of Derbyshire.
The Heart of Derbyshire scheme is being developed by Derbyshire County Council and will officially launch to the public in September.
The scheme will have a number of elements, all focussing on improving the health of people across Derbyshire through healthier food choices.
Food businesses across Derbyshire are being encouraged to register for free to become members of the scheme, and as well as promoting healthier choices to customers, it is hoped being a member will boost their businesses too.
To join, they will be asked to make a number of pledges on healthy eating, from using less fat, salt and sugar in their products to offering smaller portion sizes as a choice and using more vegetables, fruit and wholegrains.
To qualify to be a Heart of Derbyshire member, businesses must have achieved a minimum food hygiene rating of three from their local district or borough council and they will need to fill out an application form and list the pledges they can achieve.
There will be three levels of membership – bronze, silver and gold – and the category businesses achieve will depend on their food hygiene rating and the number of pledges they make.
It is anticipated that many businesses will already be meeting some of the pledges, or may only have to make small adjustments to qualify.
Details of every business that joins the scheme will be featured on the Heart of Derbyshire section of the county council’s website, and each business will get a certificate to display on its premises.
After the official Heart of Derbyshire launch, the public will be able to log on to the website and search for a particular business to find out if it’s a member. They will be able to search by food type, pledge category or location. For example, they will be able to search for food businesses in Derbyshire that have pledged to use less fat, salt or sugar, or find out if their local takeaway is a member.
Around 1,600 independent food retailers across the county will shortly be receiving a letter explaining the scheme and a Heart of Derbyshire application form.
They will also receive information about how their business could benefit from being a Heart of Derbyshire member.
Coun Dave Allen, Derbyshire County Council cabinet member for health and communities, said: “The number of obese people nationally is rising and unfortunately that is the case here in Derbyshire too.
“We want to do what we can to try to reverse this, improve people’s health and tackle health inequalities that exist across the county.
“To help us do this we need food retailers on board, offering healthier options and using less sugar, fat and salt in their products.
“As well as improving the health of their customers, we believe the Heart of Derbyshire scheme will be a real boost to businesses as customers see what they have to offer and decide to opt for healthier choices.
“We’re not asking people to stop eating out or going to takeaways, but it would be great if, when they do have a treat, there’s a healthy version on offer for them to choose.”
The county council’s trading standards team will monitor the businesses which register to be Heart of Derbyshire members, working with district and borough council environmental health teams.
Businesses that don’t receive an application form through the post in the next couple of weeks, but would like to register to be a member, should phone 01629 536166 or email email@example.com to ask for one to be sent to them.
They can also visit www.derbyshire.gov.uk/heartofderbyshire to download a form.
It is hoped that the Heart of Derbyshire scheme will prove as successful for businesses as the county council’s Trusted Trader scheme, which has around 1,300 members and receives an average of 9,000 visits to its website every month.
The Trusted Trader scheme helps Derbyshire residents find honest and reliable traders who commit to doing a good job for a fair price, and businesses benefit from the extra custom it brings their way.
The Heart of Derbyshire scheme and website will be officially launched to the public in September.