Vegetables or more fried potatoes as growers advocate ‘healthy’ fast food option

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 16th August 2012

Australia’s peak industry body AUSVEG representing vegetable growers has called on Australia’s fast food chains to offer a vegetarian burger option aside from typically vegetarian potato chips on most menus.

AUSVEG is the national peak industry body representing 9000 of Australia’s vegetable and potato growers.

The encouragement by AUSVEG has come in response to the announcement by fast-food chain McDonalds that features a new lamb burger on their menu. The McLamburger, containing over 40 grams of fat, retails at AUD $7.95.

AUSVEG has suggested a retail vegetarian option from 100 percent Australian produce could be a vegetable patty, which “would benefit waistlines and support the domestic vegetable industry.”

“At a time where there is an alarming rise in obesity levels in Australia, AUSVEG believes it would be more beneficial for the fast food chain to focus on creating a burger which features 100 per cent Australian grown produce for both the salad and veggie patty,” said AUSVEG spokesperson Courtney Burger.

Notwithstanding the AUSVEG call, Australian Food News has previously reported research conducted by marketing and psychology academics at the City University of New York, Loyola University Maryland and Duke University, in 2009, found that the presence of a “healthy food option” on a menu had unexpected effects on consumer behaviours, including:

–       Driving attention to the least healthy option in the choice set; and

–       Providing individuals with the license to indulge in tempting food options.

While AUSVEG’s suggestion for fast-food chains to offer a “healthy choice” product that would meet certain nutritional minimums, research reveals the brands being advertised are likely to sell much higher volumes of the less healthy food offerings. The 2009 study suggested the presence of both a “healthy option” and a less healthy option lead to consumers choosing the more tempting but less healthy option without the guilt or self-control normally present.