On Friday, a pilot study was launched, which sees the nutritional value of each item displayed on a restaurant’s menu, with the aim to empower patrons with the knowledge to make the right food choices.

By providing macronutrient details for every dish on the menu, customers will have all the information to make food choices that are appropriate for their own personal situation.

The pilot study, called Feeding Knowledge: The Power to Choose, is planned to be carried out over the next three months and is being led by Bernice Sant, a sports and exercise psychologist, who will be collecting and reviewing collected data on a monthly basis.

The project is being done in collaboration with Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA), the Ministry for the National Heritage, Arts and Local Government, the Ministry for inclusion, voluntary organisations and consumer rights, and Xara Collection, which operates Oka’s At The Villa.

On the menu, clients will have access to information on how much fat, saturates, total sugar, salt, fibre and protein each listed item has. It will be coupled with a traffic-light system indicating the quantity of each macro-nutrient mentioned.

Clients will also be encouraged to fill out a questionnaire so the effects of the labelling system can be measured and analysed.

Adrian Tonna, Chief Commercial Director of the Xara Collection, the sole participant of the pilot study, emphasised that the project is very much in line with the restaurant’s goal of sustainability.

“We immediately accepted the opportunity to be part of this pilot project,” exclaimed Mr Tonna.

On her part, Dr Sant remarked that “it’s not just about the calories, which can scare people, but it will show other details, to help those who have issues with sugar or blood pressure.”

“The goal is to inform the consumers, and also chefs, who might want to ‘smart switch’ some ingredients, which could be healthier without affecting the taste.”

Dr Sant explained how it would also help improve the credibility of restaurants since it would better inform consumers about the choices they are making. She added that this is not the first time that a project with this objective is being conducted in Malta. The first one was done roughly 10 years ago, however, Dr Sant explained that there was not much awareness of food and healthy eating habits yet.

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