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Nutritional Standards for Health and Social Care settings

HSC Nutritional Standards: food environment standards

Northern Ireland specific

Food environment standards for the promotion and display of healthier options.

Nutritional Standards

7.1 Promote involvement in implementing the Nutritional Standards within the catering/ retail premises. 

7.2 Ensure that the healthier items within each category are displayed in the most prominent location, for example: 

  • healthier options from the hot meal servery 
  • breads that are a source of fibre 
  • high fibre cereals 
  • lower fat and sugar yogurt 
  • fresh fruit

7.3 Promote fresh fruit or salad as meal accompaniments or as a snack. Do not provide chips or crisps as accompaniment to sandwiches. 

7.4 Menus/menu boards must be clearly available for customers to see all food and drink items on offer and prices must be clearly displayed. 

7.5 The healthier options must be more prominently displayed on the menu/menu board. 

7.6 Salt or salt substitutes must not be on display at tables. 

7.7 Sugar sachets and cubes must not be on display at tables. 

7.8 Remove food high in fat, salt and sugar from the till area, for example: 

  • chocolate 
  • crisps 
  • confectionery, packet sweets and biscuit snacks 
  • traybakes

7.9 Free fresh tap water must always be available. 

7.10 All promotions of meals and snacks must meet the Nutritional Standards. 

7.11 Meal deals must include a piece of fruit, vegetables or a portion of salad and must meet the relevant Nutritional Standards.

Consider participating in schemes that promote healthy options for consumers. For example Calorie Wise, fruit loyalty schemes and healthy meal deals.

Guidance for vending machines

1. All savoury snacks must not exceed 200 calories per packet. 

2. Confectionery, packet sweets and biscuit snacks must be offered in the smallest, single serve portion size commercially available. This must not exceed:

  • 125 calories per packet for confectionery and packet sweets
  • 200 calories per packet for chocolate and biscuit snacks. 

3. All cold beverages available must be low calorie. Therefore, no beverages with added sugar are to be offered. Note: Low calorie (low energy) beverages are products not containing more than 20 calories (80 kilojoules, or kJ) per 100 ml. 

4. Cold beverage vending machines will have a split of 30% still or sparking unflavoured water; and 70% low calorie carbonated or still beverages.

5. Fruit juice, vegetable juice and smoothies must be in single serve packs (pack size 150 to 200 ml). 

Branding/information on vending machines will support health promoting messages. 


Periodic reviews of the sales of vending products will be conducted. Work will continue towards increasing the range of healthier products lines alongside considerations of any new UK-published guidance on healthy eating/vending.