The Feeding Knowledge Pilot Study, which was officially launched by Hon Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli, is spearheaded by Dr Bernice Sant, alongside Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA), with the intention to be extremely helpful for health-conscious people, to dine in restaurants and any other places offering catering services, to include the Macro-nutrient details, namely fats, saturated fats, carbs, proteins, fibre, sugars, salts for every dish they offer.
This pilot project will serve as an eye-opener for those who weren’t aware of what their dishes consist of and help those who always wanted to take better action on their diet but never had the courage to make that initial start.
Dr Bernice Sant, who is a Performance, Sport & Exercise Psychologist, and a keen fitness enthusiast, stated that she always sought to promote healthier habits of how one can live and maximize the quality of life that person is living. Through extensive studies, experience and collaboration with MHRA, we came up with an initiative to try to create awareness about health promotion that leads to a better quality of life, and eventually a stronger relationship with the consumer.
This simple change in Menus, will include a smaller print underneath the dishes on the Restaurant Menu. After a careful assessment of the sector, based on the right resources and marketplace, Oka’s at the Villa, which forms part of the Xara Collection agreed to be fully onboard with this initiative, therefore being the first high-level restaurant in Malta which is including an accurate macro-nutrient for 15 dishes found in their menu so that guests will be consciously aware of their food choices.
With this initiative, together with MHRA and Oka’s at the Villa, we are being pioneers in the restaurant sector where if the study is successful, we will be able to offer and increase more restaurants that are interested in being part of this educational initiative. While we are aware that there were initiatives in the past, to introduce this information in the menus but it was still too early for the consumer to accept, however, today, people are more aware of their health and they are much more eager for education on what they eat, so we are convinced that now is the right moment that this initiative will be appreciated more. Appreciated in the sense that people will feel that they can go to a restaurant and eat a meal in a more conscious way for their health, as well as being more able to improve the quality of their social life.
Dr Sant concluded by thanking Hon Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli and Hon Minister Owen Bonnici, for their outstanding support when they were approached with the idea of this project.
Justin Zammit Tabona; Managing Director of Xara Collection stated that “As the Xara Collection, we are very proud of our continuous efforts to push our gastronomic boundaries through our sustainable initiatives, namely at the Xara Gardens by making a better world through Cuisine and hospitality and continually pushing to put Malta on the International gastronomic map. Therefore, when contacted by the team for OKA’s to take part in the ‘feeding knowledge project’ we immediately hopped on board this initiative as we truly believe that our clients will appreciate that we are providing more information for a healthier lifestyle.”
Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association CEO, Andrew Agius Muscat stated that many of our restaurant members are seeking new ways to improve the dining experience they offer to their guests. We believe that initiatives such as the one being spearheaded through this pilot project significantly led to improved awareness of the quality level of the food being served. When Dr Bernice Sant approached MHRA with this initiative, we immediately supported her because we believe that what is being done here reflects the latest eating habits and requirements of restaurant guests seeking healthier menus, better service, and improved dining experiences. By supporting this pilot study, Oka’s at the Villa by Xara Collection has positioned itself as a leader in the dining scene in Malta and hopefully will inspire other restaurants to follow suite.
While the initiative is currently contained to a single establishment with select items, MHRA CEO Andrew Agius Muscat said that the study is not exclusive. “A majority of restaurants can join,” he said as there are already discussions on future steps to promote healthy living alongside Malta’s characteristic Mediterranean cuisine.
On 27th February, MHRA will be organising a Seminar together with the Department for Industrial and Employment Relations (DIER) and other stakeholders, namely, to discuss the employment law for all Restaurateurs. During this seminar we will be presenting for the first time the result of a research on the Dining habits in Malta & Gozo carried out by one of the leading companies in catering supplies, ProKitchen. During this event we will also be presenting the MHRA BOV Deloitte Restaurants Performance survey for the year 2022, concluded Agius Muscat.
Hon Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli, Minister for Inclusion, Voluntary Organisations and Consumer Rights stated that the latest study is a positive step towards the Ministry’s mission of creating a more inclusive society that prioritizes consumer interests. The Minister highlighted the importance of the study, particularly in relation to the Ministry’s responsibility for inclusion, as a large percentage of the population has some form of food intolerance. The study provides consumers with a clearer picture of the food they consume, including information on nutrients and intolerances, such as high blood pressure. The Ministry will continue to work towards ensuring that all consumers have access to relevant and accurate information.
This pilot study is in collaboration with the Ministry for Inclusion, Voluntary Organisations and Consumer Rights, Ministry for the National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government, Dr Bernice Sant, Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA), Oka’s at the Villa by Xara Collection, QSquared, and Mustard Creative company.