WASHINGTON (October 14, 2021) — World Resources Institute (WRI) announced that its “Cool Food Meals” badge will next roll out on the menus of major food companies Aramark and Nestlé Professional and Sweden-based restaurant chain MAX Burgers. The Cool Food Meals badge identifies dishes with a lower carbon footprint, in line with what WRI research finds is needed by 2030 to meet the Paris Agreement on climate change.  

“Because agriculture drives a quarter of all annual greenhouse gas emissions, it will be impossible to meet climate targets without reducing food-related emissions,” said Edwina Hughes, Head of Cool Food at WRI. “The Cool Food Meals label helps diners easily spot climate-friendly dishes when dining out. It’s a simple way that food companies can point customers toward food choices that are better for the planet.”

“In 2008 MAX was the first restaurant in the world to climate label its own menu. We have been waiting 13 years for a credible third-party certified climate labeling on food and finally it is here,” said Kaj Török, Chief Sustainability Officer at MAX Burgers. “The Cool Food Meals badge can now become the global standard for climate labeling on food and MAX is thrilled to be the first restaurant to bring it to Europe.” 

With animal-based foods accounting for two-thirds of agriculture-related greenhouse gas emissions, choosing foods like legumes and vegetables that are less resource intensive to produce is an easy action consumers can take to lower their personal carbon footprint. 

Global foodservice company Aramark has increased its climate-healthy plant-forward menu options through its Healthy for Life® initiative. Currently, 34% of main dishes the company serves on menus at workplaces, hospital cafes and university dining halls in the United States are vegetarian or vegan.

“Reducing Aramark’s impact on the planet is a critical priority. Beginning in January, we will make it easier for our guests to make climate-friendly choices by rolling out Cool Food Meals on dining hall menus at 10 U.S.-based universities,” said Ash Hanson, Chief Diversity & Sustainability Officer at Aramark.  “Our innovative move to more plant-forward menus is better for people’s health—and it is also good for the planet. Our plant-forward menu options not only meet consumer tastes, but they also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, minimize demand for water and land resources and preserve natural habitats.”

To identify which meals qualify as Cool Food Meals, WRI uses a dish’s ingredients list to calculate its carbon footprint by analyzing the emissions from the agricultural supply chains and the land used to produce the meal. If a dish’s carbon footprint falls below an established per-meal threshold and meets a nutrition safeguard, it is approved as a Cool Food Meal. The per-meal threshold is based upon a maximum recommended daily carbon footprint for a person’s diet, which is 38% smaller than the current average. For breakfast in the United States, this is 3.59 kg CO2e/portion and for lunch or dinner it is 5.38 kg CO2e/portion. This is in line with what WRI’s research has found is needed by 2030 to help meet the Paris Agreement on climate change.  

Nestlé Professional is the first food manufacturer to take on the role of Cool Food Meals Ambassador and will focus on providing foodservice operators scores of Cool Food Meal-certified recipes that feature Sweet Earth Awesome Burger, Grounds and Mindful Chik’n products.

“Nestlé Professional is thrilled to be able to offer foodservice operators the ability to quickly update their menus with Cool Food Meals-certified recipes. This partnership is about working together throughout the foodservice industry to create measurable progress on climate change,” said Perry Miele, President of Nestlé Professional – USA.

The Cool Food Meals badge first launched on Panera Bread menus in the United States in October 2020. Fifty-five percent of Panera entrees are certified as Cool Food Meals, including fan favorites like the Chipotle Chicken Avocado Melt and the Broccoli Cheddar Soup. 

“It’s been exciting to see just how well consumers have received the Cool Food Meals-labeled dishes on Panera’s app and in stores,” said Sara Burnett, Vice President, Food Beliefs, Sustainability and PR at Panera Bread. “Panera warmly embraces the new Cool Food Meal partners as we can now reach customers across new countries and access points, from restaurants to universities. With each new partner and Cool Food Meals choice, we unite to reduce the footprint of food in our fight against the climate crisis.”
Through its Cool Food initiative, WRI also leads the Cool Food Pledge, which helps restaurants, hospitals, hotels, universities and cities tap the latest behavioral science to cut emissions from the food they serve. Strategies range from changing menu layouts and using appetizing language to help consumers more often choose low-carbon options, to offering more plant-focused meals. 

Bank of America, Brandeis University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital, Froedtert Hospital, Morristown Medical Center, New York City, Peace Health Southwest Medical Center, RobinFood, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, University of Vermont Medical Center, and Williams College are the newest members to sign on to the Cool Food Pledge, which launched in 2018. 

Together, Cool Food Pledge members are making 1.2 billion meals more sustainable each year. Data for 2020 show that the bulk of Cool Food Pledge members have already collectively reduced their food-related emissions by 16% per plate, which is ahead of the pace needed to meet the group’s target of reducing overall emissions by 25% by 2030. Full data is available here

“The next frontier in climate action is happening on people’s plates. With Cool Food Meals now on menus in burger restaurants to football stadiums, and so many institutions also making huge changes to their dining environments through the Cool Food Pledge, many more people will get the chance to put their climate action ambitions into practice when they dine out,” said Hughes

To learn more about Cool Food Meals, visit www.coolfood.org
About World Resources Institute 

World Resources Institute (WRI) is a global research organization that spans more than 60 countries, with international offices in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States, regional offices in Ethiopia (for Africa) and the Netherlands (for Europe), and program offices in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Our more than 1,400 experts and staff turn big ideas into action at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity and human well-being. More information at www.wri.org or on Twitter @WorldResources.