Creation and development of the programme
Founder and Director of healthpro: Nutrition and Exercise Specialists, Harriette Lynch, designed the Menu Mentoring programme with the aim of making eating outside of the home environment easier for peolple who suffer from food allergies or clinical conditions, and for people who simply want to make informed choices.
In doing so, Harriette discovered that this process also helped food providers to not only comply with recent allergen declaration law, but also to enhance the nutritional value of their food, streamline production, reduce waste, and inturn reduce costs, attract a new demographic of customers, and ultimately boost revenue.
Inspiration for the programme (2006)
Whilst studying for her BSc in nutrition and dietetics in Chester, England, Harriette maintained a busy schedule of group exercise instruction and personal training. Her clients regularly asked for her advice and recommendations as to where they could best support their nutritional needs when eating out in the city, a question Harriette could not answer with confidence. The problem? It was impossible to truly know the actual ingredient and allergen profile of any restaurant meal because no business was providing such information. Indeed, it was often the frustrating experience of Harriette, her family, friends, and clients, that even menu descriptions failed to correlate with the food that was actually served! In response to the problem, Harriette offered her dietetic expertise to a number of food providers in the Chester area to help them understand more about the content of the meals they were serving and the impact of ingredient selection and preparation and cooking methods on their nutritional and allergen profile. Through this process, she discovered that some chefs, on learning the nutritional value and allergenic properties of their menu items, were willing to make small but significant changes for the better. Most found that lowering the fat, sugar and salt content of many dishes was possible without adversely affecting taste and texture, and that substitutions to one or two ingredients and subtle alterations to preparation methods could render a dish suitable for a range of dietary needs. Harriette encouraged such chefs to let their customers know about their initatives, and the resulting feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
Around the same time, during a clinical placement stint as part of her studies, Harriette was given the opportunity to conduct a nutritional analysis of a NHS hospital menu. A shocking revelation from this project was that the hospital's renal patient menu yielded a salt content far in excess of clinical recommendations for kidney disease (adherence to a low salt diet is essential for such patients).
Establishment of healthpro: Nutrition and Exercise Specialists (2009)
Upon completion of her degree and return to Dublin, Harriette launched healthpro: Nutrition and Exercise Specialists, with the simple mission of improving the health and wellbeing of the nation through the media of nutrition and exercise. As an integral part of a range of nutrition and exercise related services, the healthpro Menu Mentoring platform was conceived. Following attendence of a major conference on obesity in Brussels, discussions with senator Liz Kniss (who was leading the calories on menus movement throughout the United States), and inspiration from the approach adopted by the Whole Foods Market in the US, Harriette began to devise a method of menu labelling that could clearly indicate allergen and nutritional information to the public. A bespoke software system was created with the technical assistance of a Dublin-based company, permitting upload of menu item ingredients and susequent generation of a nutritional label and associated allergen, energy and lifestyle symbols for each dish. Placement of the information on the food providers' menu, menu boards, and on-line resourses provided a wealth of accurate information for the consumer in a user-friendly format.
Launch of first healthpro Menu Mentoring labelled menu in Ireland (2009)
The first healthpro Menu Mentoring endorsed menu was launched by Bay Restaurant, located in the seaside suburb of Clontarf, Dublin. In addition to providing delicious food from locally produced, seasonal ingredients, Bay could now cater for a growing customer base that had specific dietary requirements, such as the gluten or lactose intolerent, the cardiac or diabetic patient, or indeed the health conscious diner who wanted to eat to their calorie and nutritional needs. The success of Bay's ongoing commitment to menu labelling via the healthpro Menu Mentoring programme is evidenced by their ever-expanding and loyal customer base, who in some cases, are willing to travel great distances for the pleasure of a table.
Growth of healthpro Menu Mentoring throughout Ireland (2010 - present)
Since 2009, Irish companies such as Apache Pizza, Beshoff Bros (the first fish n' chip business to provide menu nutritional labelling), The Bagel Bar, Kerrigan's Craft Butchers, Fleming's Butchers, Vermilion Restaurant, Carton House Hotel, and The Merrion Hotel, have become proud subscribers to healthpro Menu Mentoring, providing their valued customers with the information they need.
The development of the "Healthy Eating Guide" – a directory of food providers commited to excellence in consumer care
The Healthy Eating Guide is an online platform on which food providers subscribed to the healthpro Menu Mentoring programme can position themselves as leaders in nutritional care to a global market. The first directory of it's kind, customers can readily access restaurants, hotels, bars, cafes, delis, butchers and other food providers catering for their individual nutritional requirements at the click of a button.
healthpro Menu MentoringTimeline
Harriette began working with chefs in the UK in response to questions from personal training clients as to where and what food they should eat when dining out.
2007 - 2008
Harriette completed a project in the NHS and observed that a renal patient could consume far in excess of their daily salt requirements by selecting from the hospital's special menu.
Harriette founded healthpro: Nutrition and Exercise Specialists, a company focused on improving the nations health and wellbeing.
2009 – 2010
healthpro Menu Mentoring programme was created to fullfill a need for accurate nutritional and allergen information on menus. Research conducted in Europe and the US to ensure best practice.
The first healthpro Menu Mentoring endorsed restaurants in Ireland launch their fully labelled menus.
2010 – 2011
RTE’s Operation Transformation start the "Count Me In" campaign and talk to healthpro about their Menu Mentoring programme, featuring healthpro on the show.
2010 – 2014
healthpro and their endorsed food outlets are in the media talking about menu labelling and it's benefits to consumers and businesses alike. Shows include TV3's Four Live, RTE’s John Murray Show, and Newstalk’s Sean Moncrieff. Press articles appear in the Evening Herald and Irish Times among others.
2014 – 2015
healthpro launches the Healthy Eating Guide, an online directory of Menu Mentoring endorsed food providers for a global market.