Turkey Provides a Solution: FDA Calls Upon Foodservice to Help Reduce Obesity

June 27, 2006
Washington, D.C.

Sherrie Rosenblatt, National Turkey Federation
202-898-0100 ext. 227, srosenblatt@turkeyfed.org
or Lisa Brackett, Devine & Pearson
617-472-2700 ext. 135 l_brackett@devine-pearson.com

Turkey is the perfect answer to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recent urging of away-from-home food establishments to offer consumers more low-calorie, healthful options. In a report released June 2, 2006, the FDA challenges restaurants and foodservice establishments to adopt healthier menus in an effort to reduce what they call “the public health crisis of epidemic proportions:” obesity. It states, “A wider range of less-calorie-dense, more-nutrient-dense food and beverage choices in away-from-home food outlets…can help Americans manage their weight more effectively.” The report further encourages reducing the total fat and saturated fat content of menu items.

Turkey breast meat is less calorie-dense than chicken or beef, which means that it has fewer calories for the same size serving. Because of this, foodservice operators can offer the same appealing portions to their customers, but with reduced calories. Reducing calories, with lean proteins like turkey, helps individuals maintain a healthy body weight. Moreover, turkey breast meat is low in fat, with no saturated fat, protein-rich, and nutrient dense.

Sherrie Rosenblatt, senior director of marketing and communications of the National Turkey Federation (NTF) is excited for the opportune role turkey can play in this FDA directive: “Not only is turkey low in calories and rich in nutrients, but its culinary versatility means that you can easily substitute it in any of your current menu items without overhauling your recipes.” She goes on to say, “Turkey is applicable in all ethnic cuisines and popular among all age groups, it is a win-win situation.” In fact, an NTF online survey (November 2005) revealed that 77 percent of consumers would order turkey when dining out if it was offered on the menu.

Restaurant owners and foodservice operators recognize the need for Americans to achieve a healthy weight, but that their role in this issue is challenging. They express concern about how to improve the overall nutrition of their menus, while still pleasing their customers and without sacrificing profit.

Beginning in December 2004, a series of collaborative discussions set out to develop realistic recommendations for action, with representatives from the food industry, government, universities, health organizations and civic groups. The results of this FDA-commissioned forum are published in the final report, The Keystone Forum on Away-from-Home Foods: Opportunities for Preventing Weight Gain and Obesity.

Foodservice operators and chefs are encouraged to visit EatTurkey.com to discover innovative ways to introduce turkey to their menus as a healthier meat option. The “Turkey Trendsetters“ area features success stories of restaurants that have used turkey at their establishments.

Read the full Keystone Forum report on away-from-home foods at: http://www.keystone.org/spp/documents/Forum_Report_FINAL_5-30-06.pdf.

The National Turkey Federation (NTF) is the national advocate for all segments of the turkey industry, providing services and conducting activities that increase demand for its members' products by protecting and enhancing their ability to profitably provide wholesome, high-quality, nutritious products. Its award-winning web site, www.eatturkey.com, offers consumers, food professionals and the media an extensive library of information including healthy eating and restaurant trends, turkey cuts and purchasing tips, turkey nutrition and cooking techniques, and turkey facts and trivia. Additionally, the site presents a searchable database of more than 1,500 recipes, offers a recipe E-mail program and provides special seasonal and holiday ideas. The National Turkey Federation is headquartered in Washington, D.C.