DELIVERING healthy eating messages across the Bradford district, there is no doubt that Amy Lamond has made an impact.
The public health nutritionist has been at the forefront of Bradford Good Food Project, working to encourage businesses such as restaurants, cafes and take-aways to use healthier cooking methods and ingredients, and offer more healthy options.
It provides information, fact sheets and tips to help reduce introduce healthier food and reduce salt intake.
Now Amy has travelled almost 2,000 miles to the Algerian capital Algiers to pass on these important messages to government officials and gather information on the type of food served within the North African country.
The EU-funded consumer protection project involves passing on best practice and looking at how improvements can be made.
“There are a lot of take-aways in Algiers,” says Amy, who works for West Yorkshire Joint Services, of which trading standards is part. “There is an on-the-go culture with a heavy French influence – lots of coffee and croissants.”
Kebabs are hugely popular, she adds, and pizza too. “Where we have sandwich shops they would have a kebab shop,” she says.
“We went around a supermarket and there are healthier options but people find it hard to choose and some products, such as coffee, come with sugar already mixed in it – it tastes so sweet. We saw about 15 different coffees, but only three without added sugar. Generally, it is the sugary ones they drink – Algerians have a very sweet tooth.”
She adds: “Desserts are sugar-laden and when we compared fizzy drinks to those in the UK we found a lot more with a high sugar content.”
Education is needed to change buying habits and influence change within the industry, says Amy, who was accompanied on the trip by retired trading standards officer Richard Hodge from Nottingham.
“Richard covered consumer protection, while I covered health,” she points out.
The Good Food Bradford Project has been a success, with businesses able to apply for awards that acknowledge their efforts in making changes or introducing healthier choices on the menu.
Free training and support is offered to those taking part.
In Algeria it is hoped that government campaigns will pave the way for changes. “They are planning to introduce things on a national scale,” says Amy, who met the officials including the Algerian minister of trade, as well as representatives of non-governmental organisations.”
“There are many small initiatives but they are looking to join it all up.”
Amy delivered a presentation focusing upon changes in behaviour that appear as a result of education.
Changes made by businesses in Bradford are recognised through awards on three different levels, bronze, silver and gold.
Bronze recognises small changes made to ingredients, food, preparation and cooking methods to reduce fat, salt and sugar levels; silver businesses are able to demonstrate their commitment to healthy eating principles and the top accolade rewards businesses that actively promote healthy options allowing customers to make an informed choice.
Businesses achieving an award receive a certificate, a window sticker, and are listed on the websites of West Yorkshire Trading Standards and Bradford Council for members of the public to see.
Raising awareness is key if changes in habits are to be made.
“There are a lot of influencing factors, but predominantly raising awareness. In the UK we have national awareness days for sugar and salt.”
“It is very early days and many people are going to have to work together,” says Amy, adding that health complications relating to nutrition are increasingly common in Algeria, and measures need to be taken to address it.
“They are very interested and keen to see if they can start developing the health side of eating, but it is not easy.”
In October last year the official party from the Algerian government took a trip to London to see how the system worked in the capital.
“I told them that they are welcome to come to Yorkshire to see how we work,” says Amy.
The Bradford Good Food Project team also carry out free nutritional testing – sampling food from take-aways and other outlets, allowing it to be promoted with calorie information.
“This was one of the areas we talked about on the visit to Algeria. They were very interested in it, and keen to find out more,” says Amy.
Free advice and support from a nutritionist is also given in the Bradford project.