18/07/2013 13:27 BST | Updated 17/09/2013 06:12 BST

Is It Time to Scrap the Kid's Menu?


With 40% of parents eating out with their children at least once a fortnight - the kid's menu is no longer an occasional treat for many. In fact - I'd question whether it's a treat at all.

With the help of a team of parents Soil Association and Organix have investigated 21 of our biggest high street chains on their kid's meals as part of the Out to Lunch campaign for better food and service for children when they eat out - very few lived up to our expectations, check out the league table to see why.

A small army of parents visited the UK's most popular chains including Wetherspoon, Jamie's Italian and McDonald's. Right from the start, parents told us they wanted more choice and fresh food on the menu for their children, and to be given a family friendly welcome.

And what do our high street icons serve up?

The usual suspects - 12 out of 21 chains have meaty meals dominated by the usual suspects like nuggets sausages and fish fingers.

Mystery meat - Only one restaurant (Jamie's Italian) could reliably tell parents where their meat came from. Saying it "comes off a van" didn't go down with our parent restaurant critic.

And warmed up ready meals? - Only 11 restaurants were willing to tell us whether their food was freshly cooked and where it comes from. Of these 11, only four were making and cooking the majority of their food in the kitchen.


The real experts (parents and children) and health experts alike agree it's time for change. 66% of parents say food served to their children isn't good enough.

The missing ingredient? Choice. Why should parents be treated to the best a restaurant has to offer and kids get a restricted menu? They're sometimes fussy, if anything they need more options to choose from.

As a step in the right direction, we're calling for all restaurants, pubs and cafes to give the option of children's portions of adult meals as standard, offered on the menu, not just for those who feel able to ask. I remember my parents saying to me "if you want to be treated like an adult then act like one." Well we want children to be treated the same, if not better, than adults. It's time for kid's meals to grow up.