Singapore's first '100% healthy food court'

Singapore's first '100% healthy food court'

SINGAPORE - Fancy chicken rice with skinless meat and low-sugar coffee?

This healthy meal and others can be found in what is being touted as Singapore's first "100 per cent healthy food court", which was launched on Monday at Kopitiam Investment's Kent Ridge Wing outlet at the National University Hospital (NUH).

The bid to promote healthy eating is a joint initiative between Kopitiam Investment and the NUH Department of Dietetics, and is supported by the Health Promotion Board.

The board currently has a list of 16 healthier hawker centres, coffee shops and food courts, but not all the stalls in these places use healthy ingredients.

All the items in the eight cooked food stalls at Kent Ridge, however, claim to use healthier ingredients and cooking methods.

Low-cholesterol vegetable oil is used in place of pork lard and chicken is grilled rather than deep fried at the Western stall.

The drinks and desserts available have reduced amounts of sugar and coconut milk.

The outlet's tenants initially resisted the management's idea.

Kopitiam corporate communications manager Goh Wee Ling said: "We want food that is healthy, yet also retains its authentic taste.

They were concerned if the food would sell, since it involved a 100 per cent switch from what they were previously offering. They needed to be convinced it was still profitable."

Rental rebates were offered to tenants and they were also linked with suppliers who provided healthier raw ingredients at a cheaper rate.

The food court remained in operation during the six-month transition process, which saw the tenants submit recipes to a team from NUH's Department of Dietetics who helped to analyse and modify their ideas.

NUH's chief dietitian, Ms Lim Su Lin, said the team also conducted workshops to educate the tenants about healthier cooking. The meals were tested and Kopitiam asked tenants for feedback from customers.

"Customers perceived that healthy food was bland," said Ms Goh. "But we have since corrected the perception."

Kopitiam and NUH will make regular checks to ensure ingredients in the kitchens adhere to the healthier cooking methods being promoted. If the project is successful, Kopitiam will increase the number of healthy outlets and introduce them in commercial venues such as shopping malls.

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