Out To Lunch
Are visitor attractions taking your family for a ride? Our 2016 Out to Lunch campaign exposes the truth behind food served at popular family attractions.
The 2016 League Table
Take a look at the shocking results of our campaign. Guess who came last? You'll know their giant dinosaurs. Their attitude towards children's food is also prehistoric ...Check out the league table!
Over the past few months we've worked with an army of ‘secret diner’ parents, to uncover unhealthy pre-packed lunchboxes, dodgy ingredients, and a lack of transparency about food sourcing practices in the UK’s most popular museums, art galleries, zoos, visitor centres, and theme parks, as well as some good food at reasonable prices. 75% of children’s lunchboxes didn’t include any veg or salad options. 50% of attractions offered lunchboxes including muffins, cakes and sweet treats, but no fresh fruit. These findings come weeks after the Government announced new plans to tackle childhood obesity.
- The survey found children’s lunchboxes lacking in healthy options and overloaded with sugar. A lunchbox at London Zoo included up to 36g of sugar – 189% of a child’s daily sugar allowance.
- Attractions served burgers flavoured with monosodium glutamate (MSG) and meals that included E-numbers linked to negative effects on children’s behaviours (E120, E123, E131, E151).1
- 75% of children’s lunchboxes surveyed didn’t include any veg or salad options.
- The British Museum, the most popular attraction in Britain, declined to confirm whether it uses any British produce or local ingredients. Only a minority of attractions said they used British ingredients throughout their menus.
- The Natural History Museum and Brighton Pier scored in joint last place in the league table. The Eden Project scored in first place.
- The survey found cost was no barrier to good food – children’s meals at the five bottom scoring attractions were on average more than £1 more expensive than children’s meals at the five top scoring attractions.
Secret diner parents reported that while sugary drinks were readily available, few attractions were prominently providing free fresh drinking water for children. When secret diner parents at 900-acre Alton Towers asked for a glass of tap water, they were refused and told to buy a bottle from the restaurant. Secret diners at Stonehenge commented that free drinking water was available for dogs but not families. At no attractions were healthy drinks the normal option in vending machines.
Millions of families visit the UK’s iconic visitor attractions during the school holidays. Parents say that food on offer isn’t up to scratch – only 14% of parents say that they think that children’s food at popular attractions is good enough. “Visitor attractions are making life hard for parents who want to enjoy a healthy and happy day out," said Rob Percival, Soil Association Policy Officer. "Lunchboxes loaded with sugar and unimaginative ultra-processed foods are the norm. So long as junk-filled lunchboxes continue to dominate family outings, parents will have a hard time convincing their children that healthy food can be a treat too.”
Who's bottom of the table?
Dive in and take a detailed look at the shocking results of our campaign. Guess who came last? You'll know their giant dinosaurs. But their attitude towards children's food is also prehistoric ..Browse our interactive league table
Ensure children's food is fit for a happy, healthy future.
Join the Soil Association, and together we can change Britain's food culture, once and for all, for good.