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Are You Eating Out Ethically?

By Alison Porter (24 Feb 10)
Tags: quo vadis barrafina kitchen italia hush leon hawksmoor wahaca restaurants chefs cook sustainability sustainable ethical food dining british UK association sra

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Almost 70% of British diners think that restaurants aren’t doing enough to tackle social and environmental issues with a similar number saying that they are more likely to go to a restaurant that was, according to a survey carried out by the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA). The survey results combined with feedback gathered by the SRA over the last six months from industry players, including top chefs, independent restaurants and restaurant chains, suggests that much more needs to be done to meet consumer demand for ethical eating.

Launching on 28th February 2010 at Hotelympia (ExCeL London, 28 February - 4 March 2010), the SRA is a not for profit organisation focussed on helping UK restaurants to become global leaders in sustainability. As well as practical advice and guidance to help restaurants take positive sustainable actions, it will provide a voice for the industry via national campaigns, and assist restaurants in enhancing both their reputation with customers and ultimately the bottom line.

The SRA has worked closely with the many different advisory bodies that govern sustainability issues to ensure that its offering will address the many requirements of its members and simplify the whole process of becoming sustainable. For a small annual fee, restaurants will have access to a range of services to support them throughout their sustainability journey and have the option of taking an audit where gold, silver or bronze “Champion" accreditation status can be achieved.

Whilst several of the large chains are poised to sign up to the SRA, founding members already committed to the organisation include high profile establishments such as Leon (pictured above), Quo Vadis, Barrafina, Wahaca, Hawksmoor, Hush, and Kitchen Italia.

Restaurants and chefs are uniquely placed to change what and how the public eats, both directly through their restaurants and indirectly through the influence they exert.  The SRA believes that working with restaurants is the best way to fundamentally change our relationship with food and thereby to address issues around health, climate change, animal welfare and food security.

Understanding and communicating with the consumer will be a key goal for the SRA which aims to be just as accessible to UK diners as it is to UK restaurants.  Consumers will be invited to become friends of the SRA, entitling them to receive regular information and share their individual views.  The SRA will also encourage diners to communicate directly with their local restaurants by inviting them to become members through the SRA website and to participate in key campaigns.

Simon Heppner, Managing Director of the SRA says, “Restaurants are coming under increasing pressure to address a wide range of sustainability issues – from customers, employees, the media and the Government. This survey shows that they can’t ignore these demands if they want to satisfy existing customers and win new business. The Sustainable Restaurant Association has been set up to help them understand what they can do, and gain credit for the efforts they make."

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