Salt, chefs, and public health: An exploratory investigation of hospitality professionals’

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Abstract

Purpose-Public health policy has long called for significant reductions in salt intake. To date most research has been confined to processed foods. This approach fails to include the foodservice industry and its impact on population health. The purpose of this paper is to understand perceptions of what responsibility, if any, these professionals felt they had within the public health agenda. International comparisons were made to assess whether previous reductions of salt intake among UK adults was attributable to groundswell attitudinal changes at the chef/manager level, which US counterparts may not have embraced. Design/methodology/approach-This study took the qualitative approach of phenomenology as the research strategy to explore prevailing perceptions of the role and responsibility of food service regarding salt intake. Chefs and managers who deal directly with consumers were given in-depth semi-structured interviews designed to reveal the underlying themes that inform the participant’s perceptions of added salt. Findings-Major findings from both the USA and UK indicate that ground-level chef/managers do not feel a social responsibility to limit public salt consumption. Chef/managers of both countries exhibited little nutritional understanding of the health impacts of salt intake and strong reluctance to make any reductions in salt use in their daily operations. The participants cite a lack of consumer interest and the fear that any salt adjustment would change the food’s sensory acceptability putting them at a competitive disadvantage. Originality/value-To the authors’ knowledge this is the first study to examine professional foodservice personnel’s perceptions and knowledge of salt intake and the public health perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1610-1618
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Food Journal
Volume117
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2015

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Keywords

  • Perception
  • Public health
  • Restaurants
  • Salt

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