Nutrition in industrially catered menus
When food is mass produced as it is in industrial canteens, does nutrition become a casualty? Or are there ways and means to ensure that nutritive values in food can be sustained in mass-produced cuisine?
Fusion Foods and Catering Private Ltd
Consistency has become a symbol for mass-produced cuisines. However, food is not all about presentation and taste. Nutrition is also a core value that requires attention.
A balanced and nutrition-filled diet is important for good health. A few simple changes to recipes and menu options can have a major impact on the nutrition values of food served at events, canteens, cafeterias, education and healthcare institutions, or at workplaces. Healthy catering is not difficult. All it requires is menu and recipe alterations that could upsurge the number of healthy possibilities—the addition of more fruits, vegetables, or whole grains to your menu, or the of use specific ingredients for better health value.
Home cooked vs mass cooking
Mass-produced foods are typically what we see everywhere today. We are far from the days when most of the food came from your home kitchen, where even butter and ghee was made painstakingly. Today, food is catered and produced inexpensively and efficiently in factory sites, with ease of production being the byword. Many a time, mass cooking means oily food, that is less healthy, with the emphasis being on taste and ease-of-cooking.
Nutrition and daily health
Ask anyone, be it a white collar or blue-collar worker, they will tell you that they want to have a healthy lifestyle, and eat healthy food. Awareness of good health practices has ensured that everyone aspires to these.
So how does a caterer deliver this aspiration? By being a little aware of small things that could make a big difference.
Emphasis on fresh procurement, standardized ingredients of good quality, good cold storage facilities and simple cooking adaptations can ensure this.
While there are no benchmarks for this in the industry as yet, the FSSAI has issued a guidelines document for 2018 that helps the caterer standardize and process the practices required to produce safe, healthy and hygienic food in commercial environments.
Understanding and using ingredients optimally
Raw fruits and vegetables, when used in salads or other dishes, require to be washed, cleaned and handled properly for hygiene, and safety practices. Curd, while being set, requires to have temperature management, and to be chilled at the right time of setting.
Heating and cooking can diminish the vitamin content, specifically water-soluble vitamins. For example, vitamin C can go down upto 40%, by cooking peeled potatoes. Blanching or cooking vegetables for a few minutes trailed by freezing, parching or canning may reduce the levels of vitamins and minerals. Understanding and avoiding these in the food cooking process, can help retain nutrition in what is finally served.
Diet and productivity, good health
What we eat everyday determines the quality of our life. This has to be understood by the caterer too. Having a dietitian on the rolls, to prescribe a balance in the planned everyday meal to be served, can be an option.
The caterer’s interventions
It is critical that menus are planned for a balance of the different nutrients, be it carbohydrates, proteins, fats or minerals. A standard Indian diet provides for the same, and it is the menu planning that is crucial – having the right gravy dishes (dals, vegetables, etc.) to accompany your main course. Fat is essential in the right proportions. A light, yet nutritious meal can be an everyday occurrence, if planned properly, balancing the variety in the vegetables used through the week.
Meanwhile, the caterer needs to implement process checks in the cooking of the meal. The small yet critical aspects of cooking have to be in focus.
At Fusion Foods, this is a part of our organizational process, with dietitians and a strong Health and Safety team overseeing the menu planning, cooking processes, hygiene and other compliances.
We believe that catering is not the mere cooking and serving of a meal – the care and interest that goes behind the making of the meal creates the differential.