The Nutrition Center's new canteen scan

By Wilbert Enserink

The Nutrition Center is the authority that gives consumers reliable and independent information about a healthy, safe and sustainable diet. The 'Disk of Five' is familiar to many people, but in addition the Nutrition Center also provides advice on 'eating environments' and how organizations can achieve a responsible food supply. The starting point is to let the healthy choice be the easy choice.

The Nutrition Center's new canteen scan

In 2014, in consultation with scientists and stakeholders from policy and practice, the Nutrition Center drafted the "Guidelines for Healthier Canteens. These guidelines aim to make the offerings in both company restaurants and school and sports canteens healthier. The guidelines define health based on the food on offer, but appearance also plays an important role. So not only what the offer is, but also how the products are placed and promoted. For example, placing healthier products at the cash register and prominently on the menu. We chose to develop an online Canteen Scan as a communication and implementation tool.

The dream scan

The first version of the Canteen Scan was built in 2015. The Guidelines for Healthier Canteens had just been developed at that time. An increasing number of organizations are using the Canteen Scan to determine the extent to which their canteen or restaurant meets the guidelines, receiving advice for improvements. In addition, in 2017/2018 the Nutrition Center commissioned research by the Free University of Amsterdam on the validity and reliability of and experiences with the Canteen Scan. Based on these experiences and insights, the Nutrition Center decided to rebuild the Canteen Scan. The Voedingscentrum set itself the goal to improve the scan and make it future proof. For example, by creating the possibility to expand the app with sustainability strategies.

Project coordinator Irma Evenhuis says: "The widely used Canteen Scan was due for an update. We wrote down a 'dreamscan' with all our wishes and those of our users. But how do we translate that into a good future-proof app?"

Highberg supported the Nutrition Center in the recruitment and selection of a software developer through a private tender process. Together with the Nutrition Center, Highberg tightened the (technical) requirements for the Canteen Scan and worked out the supporting requirements (think device independence). During the tender process Highberg supported the Nutrition Center by providing critical input, answering questions and assisting in the evaluation of the tenders. After the tender, the Voedingscentrum asked Highberg as an independent expert to monitor the development at regular intervals and to support the Voedingscentrum in the interim evaluation of the (technical) agreements made.

Project coordinator Irma Evenhuis on the role of Highberg: "Thanks to Highberg's knowledge of tendering and software development, we were able to make our wishes concrete, taking into account our budget and technical possibilities. The process was pleasant and transparent. The concrete advice was a relevant addition to our own knowledge and experience."

The result

With the new Canteen Scan, a visually modern, attractive and user-friendly app has been developed. With it, those involved in canteens and restaurants are able to enter the products offered, and their placement, using photos of the dining facility. When entering products, the user immediately sees the extent to which the canteen meets the Healthier Canteen Guidelines and receives advice for improvement. Thus, locations are able to make their own steps toward a healthier environment that consciously and unconsciously encourages consumers to make healthier purchases.

Want more information? Please contact Joost van Lier or Wilbert Enserink.