A NEW league table ranking children’s food at 28 popular restaurant chains and supermarket cafés has revealed a lack of support for British farmers, with chains such as Tesco café, Wagamama and Giraffe serving no British meat on their menus.

The Out to Lunch campaign, led by the Soil Association with a team of secret diner children and parents, found that a minority of chains adapt their menus throughout the year to incorporate seasonal, British produce. Wahaca scored highly, sourcing chicken, beef, cheese, and a variety of vegetables from the UK, but other chains were found to be sourcing meat from Thailand, Brazil, Hungary and Uruguay.

Many chains were unable to trace the meat they served to children back to the farm. Chains including Tesco café, ASK Italian, Giraffe, Harvester, Hungry Horse, Prezzo, and Zizzi had not sought farm assurance through schemes such as Red Tractor.

Out to Lunch found a positive trend towards organic on the high street. Fifteen chains were found to be serving organic ingredients on their children’s menu – up from four chains when the Out to Lunch campaign began in 2013.

JD Wetherspoon topped the Out to Lunch league table, followed by Ikea and Harvester, with organic and sustainable ingredients and plenty of veg on the menu.

Children’s meals in the highest scoring chains were on average £1 cheaper than meals in the lowest scoring chains, showing that price isn’t a barrier to good food.

The campaign has influenced 13 chains to commit to serving two portions of veg with every child’s meal within the next 12 months. This means more than 11 million portions of veg will be served to children in the coming year because of Out to Lunch. Marks & Spencer’s café was the only chain to serve no vegetables on their children’s menu.

Several chains, including Bella Italia and Giraffe, were found to be serving children single-use plastics, like cups and straws. 88 per cent of parents surveyed said that children’s food in high street chains isn’t good enough, and 70 per cent said that environmental sustainability is important to them.

Hattie Shepherd, Soil Association policy officer, said: “Out to Lunch has kickstarted a veg revolution on the high street with more than a dozen popular chains committing to serving two portions of veg with every child’s meal.

“But many chains are failing to support British farmers by serving British and seasonal ingredients. Top performing chains like Wetherspoons and Ikea are showing that cost isn’t a barrier to good food – it’s disappointing to see lower welfare standards and environmental degradation dished up to kids through the import of low quality meat from abroad. Children and farmers deserve better.”