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© Borgis - New Medicine 4/2016, s. 130-136 | DOI: 10.5604/14270994.1228159
*Szilvia Molnár1, Róbertnè Csajbók1, Magdolna Sinka2, Katalin Rozgonyi1, Leila Bándli2, Tímea Tóth1, Melinda Rados3, Ágnes Kemenczei4, Barbara Nagy5
Current challanges faced by public catering. Public catering as a tool for behavioural education with a potential to form healthier dietary attitudes
1Department of Dietetics and Nutrition Sciences, Institute of Applied Health Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary
Head of Faculty: Professor Zoltán Zsolt Nagy, MD, PhD
2Department for Epidemiology, Institute for Health Promotion and Clinical Methodology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary
Head of Faculty: Professor Zoltán Zsolt Nagy, MD, PhD
3Department of Applied Psychology, Institute of Basic Health Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary
Head of Faculty: Professor Zoltán Zsolt Nagy, MD, PhD
4Directorate for Food Safety and Risk Assessment, National Food Chain Safety Office, Budapest, Hungary
Director General: Sarolta Barna, MD
5National Institute of Pharmacy and Nutrition, Budapest, Hungary
Director General: Csilla Pozsgay, MD
Introduction. Public catering (also known as mass catering) is an area of nutrition of the population by which the frequency of nutrition-related diseases can be significantly mitigated with the introduction of effective preventive measures. This hypothesis is supported by several studies from all over the world. The analysis of these studies enables a more accurate view on the efficiency of regulative legal measures adopted with regard to public catering.
Aim. The aim of this study was to study legal regulations of different countries that are similar to Hungarian Ministerial Decree No. 37/2014 (IV.30) EMMI on the nutritional regulations of public catering, as well as to compare the results of our survey, conducted in order to assess the efficacy of the aforementioned Hungarian legal act, with data concerning nutrition of children from other countries, with the emphasis on Slovakia.
Material and methods. The study was conducted between November 2015 and March 2016. 173 Hungarian catering managers, as well as 53 Hungarian and 40 Slovak school children who regularly eat meals provided by public catering, participated in our study. All the participants were selected randomly. We processed and aggregated the data obtained and performed statistical tests, using Microsoft Excel and the R Project software. We compared the menus available in schools to the applicable legal regulations and analysed them, using the NutriCompÉtrend Sport 3.03 (Hungarian version of NutriComp Diet Sport 3.03) software.
Results. We discovered that the main factor which influenced the opinion of children on their meals was their taste, but external factors influencing their perception of the meal (such as the appearance of the meal, its taste, general cleanliness, being familiar with the food served, healthiness of the meal and presence of friends) were also important, which was independent from their country of origin. The participating Hungarian children more frequently than Slovak children described their meals as undersalted. Only a small percentage of the participants studied the menu attentively. Energy content and nutritive value of the meals offered by public catering services differed significantly and the analysed menus failed to meet the governmental recommendations accurately in both countries. Energy content and salt content were not consistent with the recommendations in both countries.
Even though the majority (87%) of the public catering service kitchens in Hungary introduced some required technical or technological alterations during the grace period allowed by the Decree No. 37/2014 EMMI, the majority of them (62%) still needed further alterations at the time of the study in order to fully comply with the Decree, as declared by managers of the catering services that participated in our study.
Conclusions. One of the most important problem at the time of the study was the need of modernization that should be pursued as soon as possible by the majority of the catering facilities. The taste of meals provided by mass catering is currently far from optimal and, therefore, development in formulation is needed, including introduction of new technologies and new raw materials. The analysis of our results proved that the demand for mass catering services depends on the quality of the food provided and on external factors influencing the perception of the meal, and that there is demand for the development of healthy meals. Complying with the operating law and satisfying the expectations of the consumers are not easy tasks and, therefore, cooperation between all the subjects that contribute to the public catering chain is important. Governmental support is also indispensable.

The frequency of nutrition-related diseases is growing not only in Hungary, but all over the world (1). Various measures have been taken globally in order to preserve health and decrease the frequency of these diseases. Similarly to other European countries, Hungary also strives to increase health consciousness of the citizens, and their activities also involve the promotion of healthy nutrition. The governments and health services are now aware that it is more effective to prevent the diseases, rather than to treat them to restore health (1-3).
Public catering is defined as an organized supply of food for groups of people of different gender, age or occupation. This includes, among others, food supply for children and youths (i.e. kindergartners, pupils, students, boarding school students and children in orphanages), for college and university students, employees, prisoners, homeless persons or people in financial need, patients and residents of social care institutions (4).
Public catering is expected to have a great role in improving public health. Firstly, it should satisfy the energy and nutritive requirements of consumers of different age, gender and physical activity level. Secondly, it should also encourage the consumers to direct themselves towards a more healthy diet. This is to be done by influencing their preferences through promoting the consumption of more nutritious foods and introduction of advanced food processing technologies. The offered meals should fulfil the expectations of consumers in terms of both quality and quantity to the biggest possible extent.
This can be achieved if public catering promotes healthy nutrition both in theory and in practice, making them gradually more accepted by the society. The responsibility of public caterers is the greater, the greater is their variety of consumers they serve and the bigger is the amount of meals served. It is of extreme importance to control what children in social care and educational institutions eat, since health consciousness, dieting behaviours, habits and taste preferences are still formed in these age groups, and habits adopted at an early age will have vast influence on their adult habits and preferences (4, 5).
The arguments noted above are supported by the fact that official programs, nationwide projects and/or governmental regulations have been adopted with the aim of reforming public catering – with special attention paid to the supply of children in schools and elsewhere – in several countries of the world. In table 1, we compare regulations adopted by various European countries to serve different nutritional goals.
Tab. 1. Recommendations for the intake of certain foods in different European countries (6)
Fruits and vegetablesrecommended to eat every dayrecommended to eat every dayrecommended to eat every dayrecommended to eat every dayrecommended to eat
recommended to eat
recommended to eatrecommended at every meal
Milk and dairy productsrecommended to eat every dayrecommended to eat every dayrecommended to eat every dayrecommended to eat every dayrecommended to eatrecommended to eatno recommendationsrecommended to eat every day
Constant access to fresh waterrecommended recommendedno recommendationsrecommendedrecommendedrecommendedrecommendedrecommended
Fishrecommended to eat at least once a weekrecommended to eat at least once a weekrecommended to eat every dayrecommended to eat at least once a weekrecommended to eat at least once a weekno recommendationsno recommendationsrecommended to eat at least once a week
Deep fried foodrecommended to limit to max. twice a weekrecommended to limit no recommendationsrecommended to limit to max. twice a weekno require-mentrecommended to limit recommended to limit recommended to avoid
Sweets and pastry productsrecommended to avoidrecommended to limitno recommendationsrecommended to avoid/limitrecommended to limitrecommended to limitrecommended to limitrecommended to avoid
Chips and salted snacksrecommended to avoidrecommended to limitno recommendationsrecommended to avoid/limitrecommended to limitno recommendationsrecommended to limitrecommended to avoid
Beveragesrecommended to limit certain beverages recommended to limit certain beveragesno recommendationsrecommended to limit certain beverages water or skimmed milk are recommen-ded water is recommen-ded recommended to limit certain beverages recommended to limit certain beverages
Saltrecommended to limitrecommended to limitno recommendationsrecommended to limitrecommended to limitrecommended to limitrecommended to limitrecommended to limit
To minimize the nutritive and health-related risks associated with public catering, Ministerial Decree No. 37/2014 (IV.30) EMMI was issued. With the exceptions listed in the closing provisions, the Decree was valid from 1st January 2015. As its primary aim was to eliminate problems that were revealed by studies related to nutrition, the Decree includes:
– several recommendations concerning the increase of intake of vegetables, fruit, fibre and calcium and the decrease of intake of salt, sugar and saturated fats,
– recommendations on the different food groups used rather than on the nutrients whereby the Decree follows the most recent nutrition-related recommendations,
– recommendations concerning the intake of different food groups for all the ages,
– daily intake recommendations for nutrients,
– list of substances that are forbidden to be used in edibles,
– requirements concerning written warnings that are to be placed on products with high salt content and sweetened beverages,
– requirement for public caterers to post the menu in a well-visible place; the menu should contain salt content and allergenic ingredients of the foods (as well as their energy content, fat, saturated fat, protein, carbohydrate and sugar content, as introduced from 13 April 2017),
– requirement for public caterers to prepare portioning instructions (the volume and size of portions in grams) that are to be placed in a place visible for the servicing personnel,
– recommended daily intake of milk or a dairy product with an adequate amount of calcium, recommended daily intake of vegetables and fruits (at least one portion of unprocessed vegetable or fruit) and recommended daily intake of grain products of food containing grain (at least one portion of a product made of whole grain),
– recommendations on serving dietetic food; a consumer is required to be served dietetic food if it is medically grounded and prescribed.
The Decree has been valid from 1st January 2015 but a grace period was allowed till 1st September 2015 so that the changes could be introduced gradually (7).
In Slovakia, a Decree No. 330/2009 (VII.14) (in Slovak: 330/2009 Ministerstvo školstva Slovenskej republiky) has been in effect from 2009. The Decree regulates public catering in schools. It provides a plan for the elements on menus, restrictions of the content of some raw materials that are allowed and other principles (8). However, the Slovak Ministry of Education issued a statement in 2015, in which it was underlined that children need even more advanced and healthier nutrition. This resulted in creation of a collection of recipes (”Materiálno – spotrebnènormy a receptúry”), which provides high quality meals for respective age groups, with the ingredient list fitted to make 100 portions, preparation procedures and nutritive content per portion. As the compilation is to be economically friendly, it promotes the use of seasonal and local products. Practical instruction concerning portioning is also included, as well as a chart indicating the loss of nutritional substances resulting from peeling, cleaning, and other preparative methods. This collection of recipes is, in our opinion, of great help to the Slovak catering managers. The centrally issued collection of recipes facilitates the supply of quality food and makes every-day work easier for the caterers (9).
In the course of our study, we aimed to review regulations of other countries adopted for food supply that would have the same function as the Decree No. 37/2014 (IV.30) EMMI in Hungary. We also aimed to compare accessible Slovakian data concerning catering for children with the results of our survey in the context of the efficacy of the governmental regulations. We wished to analyse public catering from the dietetic point of view, which we hoped to conclude by determining what further changes in the sector might be necessary. We believe that, after a thorough assessment of the current situation and identification of existing problems, mistakes and shortfalls, effective interventions may be proposed, whereby – and with the aid of further studies – public health may be improved.

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1. Elmadfa I (ed.): European nutrition and health report 2009. Forum Nutr 2009; 62: 1-405. 2. Elmadfa I (ed.): Österreichischer Ernährungsbericht 2012 (1. Auflage). Druckerei Berger, Wien 2012. 3. Sarkadi-Nagy E, Bakacs M, Illès É et al.: Országos Táplálkozás ès Tápláltsági Állapotvizsgálat – OTÁP2009. IV. A Magyar lakosság energia- ès makrotápanyag-bevitele. Orvosi Hetilap 2012; 153(27): 1057-1067. 4. Rodler I: Új tápanyagtáblázat. Medicina könyvkiadó. Budapest 2006. 5. Domonkos A: Speciális táplálkozást, diètát igènylő ètkezők közètkeztetèsi ellátása Új; http://www.ujdieta.hu/indexacf9.html?content=332 (downloaded: 15.05.2016). 6. Storcksdieck S, Kardakis T, Wollgast J et al.: Mapping of National School Food Policies across the EU28 plus Norway and Switzerland. JRC Science And Policy Reports; 2014; http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/bitstream/JRC90452/lbna26651enn.pdf (downloaded: 20.03.2016). 7. Ministerial Decree No. 7/2014 (IV.30) EMMI on nutrition-related requirements in public catering; http://www.kozlonyok.hu/nkonline/MKPDF/hiteles/MK14061.pdf (downloaded: 03.02.2015). 8. 330/2009 (VIII.14) o zariadení školskèho stravovania (2009); https://www.minedu.sk/data/att/653.pdf (downloaded: 20.10.2015). 9. Materiálno – spotrebnènormy a receptúry, preškolskè stravovanie, 09.01.2015 Ministerstvo školstva Slovenskej Republiky; https://www.minedu.sk/data/files/5055_metodika_k_msn_2015.pdf (downloaded: 20.10.2015). 10. Keyzer DW, Caneghem SV, Heath AL et al.: Short Communication Nutritional quality and acceptability of a weekly vegetarian lunch in primary-school canteens in Ghent, Belgium: ‘Thursday Veggie Day’. Public Health Nutr 2012; 15(12): 2326-2330. DOI: 10.1017/S1368980012000870. 11. Raulio S, Ross E, Prättälä R: School and workplace meals promote healthy food habits. Public Health Nutr 2009; 13(6A): 987-992. DOI: 10.1017/S1368980010001199.
otrzymano: 2016-09-02
zaakceptowano do druku: 2016-10-28

Adres do korespondencji:
*Szilvia Molnár
Department of Dietetics and Nutrition Sciences Faculty of Health Sciences Semmelweis University
17 Vas Str., 1088 Budapest, Hungary
tel.: +36 1-486-4820
e-mail: molnaarszilvia@gmail.com

New Medicine 4/2016
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