Out to Lunch 2018 investigates the UK’s most popular visitor attractions

The school holidays are a great opportunity for British families to get out and about and spend some quality time together. Visitor attractions, from museums to zoos, theme parks to art galleries provide excellent entertainment for young and old alike, but unfortunately the food on offer can leave a lot to be desired.

What can visitor attractions do to improve?

The Out to Lunch campaign is calling on attractions to take five simple steps to improve the food and experience they offer to children and families. The attractions at the top of the Out to Lunch league table are showing how it can be done, while those at the bottom could definitely do more:

1. Ensure that all children’s lunchboxes and main meals include a least one portion of veg
  • River Cottage Canteen at ZSL Whipsnade serve two portions of veg with every adult and child meal.
  • The Science Museum and British Museum include a portion of veg as standard with their children’s lunchboxes.
  • At Legoland there is no veg or salad included in children’s lunchboxes, and no veg or salad included in the children’s meals offered as part of the ‘all inclusive’ entrance ticket.

2. Ditch unimaginative ultra-processed foods and focus more on fresh ingredients

  • Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh serve fresh, seasonal and organic fruit and veg straight from their own Market Garden, and meals are freshly prepared on site.
  • Children eating at the Science Museum’s Gallery Café are offered creative vegetarian dishes using grown-up ingredients and flavours, with meals freshly prepared and cooked on site.
  • Stonehenge do not have an on-site kitchen so all food served is pre-packed and plastic-wrapped
3. Protect parents from an over-abundance of sweet treats, which make it harder to enjoy a healthy and happy day out
  • Out to Lunch secret diner families reported that Whipsnade Zoo and the British Museum have healthy snacks and drinks widely available in vending machines.
  • Children’s puddings at the Science Museum are an appropriate size and fresh fruit is also available.
  • At Alton Towers sweets and unhealthy snacks are sold at checkouts, including in Cbeebies Land, and unhealthy options are promoted throughout the site.
4. Make free fresh drinking water available to families throughout their visit
  • Secret diners visiting the Eden Project reported that free drinking water was readily available through the attraction and very easy to find.
  • At Legoland thirsty visitors are directed to ‘Hydration Stations’ serving refillable fizzy drinks but no free fresh drinking water.
5. Support British farmers by buying the best of British produce, including organic
  • Eden Project source all of their meat and fish from Cornwall or the UK through Cornish suppliers. 85% of the money they spend on food is with Cornish (80%) or Devon suppliers (5%).
  • All of the meat served at Chester Zoo is British and farm assured. Their menus also include organic ingredients.
  • Wales Millennium Centre is serving up heaps of local Welsh and higher welfare ingredients, including organic produce.

Find out more about the Out to Lunch campaign.

In response to the 2019 Out to Lunch campaign, 13 chains committed to serving two portions of veg with every child’s meal within the next 12 months: Harvester, Ikea, ASK Italian, Zizzi, Giraffe, Hungry Horse, Wetherspoon, Prezzo, Leon, Wahaca, Wagamama, Sainsbury’s cafe, Brewers Fayre.

"Why would a business suffer from being seen to be looking after the health of its customers over the long term? We’ve seen this in a great piece of work pioneered by the Soil Association called the Out to Lunch campaign. They take twenty five of the biggest known high-street restaurant brands, and they create a league table. "Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Chains are withholding nutritional information from parents, failing to disclose any nutritional information for children’s meals.

"We want information on menus to help families make the right choice and we want companies to aim higher, let’s create a race to the top, let’s create ambitions to offer healthier things on the menu."Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall