Kate Underwood, Training and Education Manager, The Chip Group.
It’s official – our love for hot chips knows no bounds. Renowned ZM radio station hosts – Fletch, Vaughan and Meghan recently held a ‘Food Fight – Kiwi Treats Edition’ where much-loved New Zealand treats were pitted against each other and voted by listeners to find the ultimate champion. And the winner…Hot chips! Beating out 28 other treats including the likes of pineapple lumps, fruit burst, cookie time cookies and a pie from the local diary. This inevitable obsession for hot chips is engrained in our culture and doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon…
Based on this love, a vast consumption of hot chips are being eaten every week throughout this country and when poorly prepared these chips can be high in fat and not good for our health. Contributing to rising levels in obesity, heart disease, diabetes and a range of serious health issues. This is where the Chip Group comes in…our underlying goal is to ‘improve the nutritional quality of deep fried chips’ sold in New Zealand. That means working to reduce total fat, saturated fat and sodium levels in hot chips nationwide.
As an industry we simply can’t control the amount of chips being consumed, but what we can attempt to control is the way that these hot chips are being prepared. When chip operators make a few small changes to the way they cook their chips, they can reduce the total fat content by up to 20%. Our free training promotes simple, achievable techniques that cover every aspect of deep frying – from serving size, cooking time, temperature, basket drainage and type of oil.
Our innovative approach works by focusing on improving the food supply (the food that is available to purchase) and making a change to the product, without the customer having to change behaviour. Based on how many hot chips we eat, on a population scale even a slight reduction in the fat content of each scoop of chips, nationally can make a HUGE difference to the amount of unnecessary fat being consumed.
Through our training workshops we want those who attend to learn to take responsibility for the food they produce, and realise that they play a crucial role in improving the health of New Zealanders. As showcased back in 2013 with the Matamata Town Makeover ten local operators were empowered to help remove a whopping 1711kg of fat (three trailer loads!) from the local food supply over one year – so just imagine how much could be removed if all our chippies followed suit.
The Chip Group have released updated training certificate’s which now include a ‘valid until’ date. The plan here is that certificates will ‘expire’ annually, so in order to receive a new certificate, operators will be encouraged to complete chip training and upskill every year. Our free online program provides a tool that allows any individual and/or business owner the opportunity to learn how to reduce cost, make more money and most importantly be empowered to reduce fat content and improve NZ’s health so we can all keep enjoying our favourite Kiwi treat!