Zaidi, Qaim; Govindji, Azmina and Ali, Haider
Social Cooking Project.
Food Standards Agency, London.
The overall aim of the Social Cooking Project was to reduce the salt consumption of South Asian families of Indian descent in certain cities in the UK, in order to reduce levels of cardiovascular disease in these populations.
The specific aims were:
• to reduce the level of salt used in social cooking at Hindu temples and Sikh gurdwaras. (During the course of the project, it was decided to set a target of a 5% reduction in salt in social cooking.)
• to raise awareness of the link between salt consumption and cardiovascular disease among the local communities served by these places of worship
• to put salt reduction in the context of other healthy eating habits, eg, reducing fat consumption, reading food labels, etc.
• to demonstrate to volunteer cooks and congregations how the salt content of the meals that they are receiving has been reduced without compromising on taste
• to educate and improve the confidence of the volunteers who undertake social cooking so that they can cook with low levels of salt – even after the dietitians have left
• to empower congregation members to reduce the quantities of salt that they are using at home
• to help volunteers and congregation members to identify high-/low-salt foods from nutrition label information on packaged food, and to choose lower salt options
• to augment the evidence base for salt reduction in Indian communities in the UK.
The project had six objectives:
• to provide training for a small number of dietitians to enable them to work with religious leaders, volunteers and congregations in temples and gurdwaras
• to provide training and support for volunteer cooks at temples and gurdwaras to demonstrate how salt levels can be reduced and other healthy eating habits incorporated into social cooking without impairing the attractiveness and palatability of the food
• to manage the reduction of salt usage over a six-month period at each place of worship
• to provide information sessions and distribute leaflets to volunteers and congregations
• to generate publicity about the project and the impact of salt consumption on health in ethnic minority media
• to produce and disseminate an evaluation report.
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