Indian takeaway goes for healthy option

Staff at Lincoln’s Passage to India showcasing the healthier dishes

A new initiative in Lincolnshire aims to make takeaway Indian food healthier. The Passage to India on 435 High Street, Lincoln is one of five local restaurants working with a county chef to reduce salt, saturated fats and calories in popular Indian dishes.

This pilot project comes after Trading Standards randomly tested over 60 restaurants in the East Midlands in 2009 and discovered that some of the most popular dishes have high levels of salt, calories and saturated fats. It was revealed that 30% of the dishes contained more than the recommended daily amount of salt, which is 6 grams.

To help tackle obesity, professionals decided to assess how takeaways and small businesses can reduce the problem and came up with “health as stealth”. It aims to challenge the food and the suppliers rather than persuading people to eat less.

Dr Tony Hill, Director of Public Health for NHS Lincolnshire, said that people are unwilling to give up takeaways: “Our research told us that most people already know that takeaway food can be unhealthy and we need to look at ways we can make it easier for people to eat more healthily but still enjoy takeaway food.

“We believe that if we can work with the industry to help them to produce healthier products for consumers we are one step closer to tackling the impact of a diet high in salt and saturated fat.”

This month The Passage to India, as well as four other restaurants in Lincolnshire, will start serving healthier food and so far consumer testing shows that people can’t tell the difference in taste. The four other pilot restaurant are The Star of India in Boston, Mowgli in Metheringham, The Agra in Sleaford and Kismet in Grantham.

It is hoped that the new approach to healthier lifestyles will be successful, as Kelly Evans at Social Change UK says: “It would be easy to just tell the public on posters and postcards that takeaway food can be bad but we know this doesn’t work. We know that some people will not stop buying so changing the food – but still keeping the taste is the best strategy to tackle obesity.”

Restaurants that have taken part in the pilot will showcase their work at the Epic Centre at the Lincolnshire Showground on June 30 and all Indian restaurants and takeaways are invited to take part in free training to see how they can make their food healthier and save money.

Photos: Samantha Fisher for The Lincolnite