Seventy-Five Percent of Airport Restaurants Offer Healthful Meals, According to 2014 Airport Food Review

The Physicians Committee
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NEWS RELEASE December 5, 2014
Seventy-Five Percent of Airport Restaurants Offer Healthful Meals, According to 2014 Airport Food Review
Physicians Committee Showcases Healthful Meal Options for Holiday Travelers

WASHINGTON—Here’s a helpful tip for holiday travelers: 75 percent of restaurants at 23 of the nation’s busiest airports offer at least one cholesterol-free, plant-based, fiber-packed meal, according to a new report from registered dietitians at the nonprofit Physicians Committee.

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport ties with Newark Liberty International Airport for the most improved airport this year and takes the lead with 92 percent of its restaurants offering nutritious fare. Seattle-Tacoma International and Los Angeles International follow close behind with a score of 90 and 88 percent, respectively.  Even though Atlanta comes in last, roughly half of its airport eateries are moving vegetables, whole grains, and legumes to the center of the plate.

“We’re seeing a vegetable renaissance take place in U.S. airports,” says Physicians Committee director of nutrition education Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D. “The demand for healthful meals is creating an artisanal food movement, ripe with beet burgers, quinoa bowls, and Brussels sprouts salads. As a dietitian, I’m excited to see a menu shift toward immune-boosting, disease-fighting foods.”

Healthful dining trends remain consistent with the 2013 survey, which identified 76 percent of airport eateries offering at least one cholesterol-free, plant-based, fiber-packed entrée. The 2014 report includes five additional airports—Philadelphia, Boston, JFK, LaGuardia, and Seattle—so the national average still reflects a growing trend for healthful fare. In 2001, just 57 percent of airport restaurants offered at least one plant-based option.

Menu items that garner healthful points this year include dark leafy green salads, ancient grain bowls, roasted vegetable wraps, Mediterranean- or Mexican-inspired vegetable plates, and gluten-free macrobiotic sushi. Healthful snacks and meals-to-go include portable fruit cups, steel-cut oatmeal bowls, vegetable crudités, and cups of lentil soup or black bean chili.

The scores for the 2014 report are as follows:

Airport Healthful Restaurants/Total Restaurants Score
1. Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport 36/39 92%
2. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport 43/48 90%
3. Los Angeles International Airport 52/59 88%
4. Reagan National Airport 26/30 87%
5. Newark Liberty International Airport 49/57 86%
6. LaGuardia Airport (tie) 38/45 84%
6. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (tie) 37/44 84%
7. Denver International Airport 54/65 83%
8. San Francisco International Airport 47/57 82%
9. Dulles International Airport 28/35 80%
10. Boston Logan International Airport 62/78 79%
11. John F. Kennedy International Airport (tie) 83/106 78%
11. Chicago O’Hare International Airport (tie) 87/111 78%
11. Philadelphia International Airport (tie) 53/68 78%
12. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport 42/57 74%
13. Charlotte Douglas International Airport 36/49 73%
14. Las Vegas McCarran International Airportt 54/75 72%
15. Miami International Airport (tie) 54/78 69%
15. Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport (tie) 48/70 69%

16. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

*Dallas can customize plant-based options at almost every restaurant

66/98 67%
17. Orlando International Airport 27/41 66%
18. Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport 51/79 65%
19. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport 65/126 52%

Airport Rankings

The Physicians Committee collects airport restaurant menus from the top 30 busiest airports in the United States, based on data from the Federal Aviation Administration. Inconclusive data eliminates an airport from the final rankings. An airport restaurant receives a point if its menu includes at least one cholesterol-free, plant-based, high-fiber entrée. The final percentage score divides the airport's number of restaurants serving health-conscious fare by its total number of restaurants. Survey methods include in-person visits, internet research, and phone calls with restaurant managers to confirm menu items. The rankings and a healthful airport travel guide will go live on Friday, Dec. 5, at AirportFoodReview.org.

For a copy of the report or to request an interview with a Physicians Committee registered dietitian, please contact Jessica Frost at 202-527-7342 or jfrost@pcrm.org.

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

Media Contact:
Jessica Frost
202-527-7342 office
202-607-0952 cell
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