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Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States
($27 billion); non-commercial restaurant services ($47 billion); and military foodservice ($2 billion). While these data relate to total volume of sales, they cannot be interpreted relative to the number of people consuming food at these locations or the relative contribution each makes to total sodium intake.
Menu and Menu Item Development
Menu and menu item development is part of the operations of any restaurant/foodservice establishment, regardless of its size. Menu development is the process of determining what types of foods will be offered at the establishment (Walker, 2009), and menu items are discrete, prepared foods that are listed on restaurant/foodservice menus with a price. Menu items may include appetizers, entrées, and desserts, as well as “combos,” “sides,” and beverages. A menu or menu item may also include “extras” or “options” for which an additional charge may or may not be made—for example, with multiple sandwich ingredient options or buffet options.
Developing menus and menu items is a complex task in which restaurant/foodservice operators consider multiple, competing concerns, including consumer needs and desires, staff skills, kitchen facilities’ capacity, availability of ingredients, costs of ingredients and production, and nutrient content of foods (Thomas, 2007; Walker and Lundberg, 2005). These concerns and others are shown in Figure 6-4.
Menu development decisions include determining how many items to offer as well as deciding the characteristics of such items (Walker and Lundberg, 2005). For example, decisions may involve determining how many chicken, fish, and vegetarian options to offer or how many fried items to include versus (presumably) more healthful steamed items. Menu expansion to include more offerings can provide consumers with more options that may allow them to make more healthful choices, but it may also result in increased costs and management concerns for the restaurant/foodservice operation (Lattin, 2009). Menu item development is similar to processed food product development, in that it involves research to determine the best amounts and types of ingredient to use, as well as the best preparation techniques. Reformulation of existing menu items to improve nutrition or substitute an ingredient also requires research and development to ensure that the product can be prepared easily and will continue to be liked by consumers.
For independent operations, menu and menu item development decisions are typically made by owners or head chefs, and changes to the menu may occur frequently (Walker and Lundberg, 2005). New menu items can be created from scratch or from completely or partially prepared processed foods. Many menu items, for large and small operations, are assembled