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NEWS RELEASE November 15, 2004

Survey Shows More Low-fat and Vegetarian Choices Available at Top U.S. Airports

Miami Takes First Place; Minneapolis Wins “Most Improved” Award; Las Vegas Ranks Lowest Second Year in a Row

WASHINGTON—America’s busiest airports are responding to the public’s interest in healthier food, according to a new report released today by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). PCRM nutritionists surveyed 12 of the busiest U.S. airports for the availability of healthy entrées. Three-quarters of the airports improved their scores from last year, and nearly 85 percent offered a healthy option (defined as a low-fat, vegetarian entree) in at least half of their restaurants.

Miami topped the list with 85 percent of its restaurants offering healthy choices, a marked improvement from last year’s fifth place. Detroit came in a close second with a score of 83 percent, thanks to its innovative “Heart Smart” nutrition plan. Dallas and New York made significant strides with both airports increasing their scores by 16 points. Minneapolis wins this year’s “most improved airport” award by gaining 20 points and jumping from last place in 2003 to ninth this year. Phoenix and Las Vegas received the two lowest scores by not offering even one healthy entrée in half of their eateries.

PCRM nutritionists evaluated the restaurants in all 12 airports, giving each restaurant a point if its menu included at least one low-fat, high-fiber, and vegetarian entrée. The final percentage score was derived by dividing the airport’s number of healthy restaurants by the total number of restaurants.

PCRM’s 2004 Airport Food Ratings: Availability of Healthy Vegetarian Choices 12 of the Busiest Airports in the U.S. from Best to Worst

Airport

Score

1) Miami

85%

2) Detroit

83%

3) Denver

78%

4) Chicago

75%

5) New York

73%

6) Atlanta

64%

7) Newark

63%

8) Dallas

59%

9) Minneapolis-St. Paul

54%

10) Los Angeles

53%

11) Phoenix

44%

12) Las Vegas

33%

As noted in PCRM’s report, more travelers are turning to restaurants in airport terminals during layovers or in response to airlines cutting back on in-flight meals. Also, many of the airlines have switched to a “buy-on-board” option, which usually features a high-fat sandwich with chips and a cookie. Possibly in response to this trend, almost 10 percent more of the surveyed airports offer a healthful option compared to last year.

PCRM’s Trulie Ankerberg-Nobis, M.S., R.D., has some general advice for holiday travelers looking to grab a bite during a layover or in anticipation of a foodless flight. “Travelers should look for non-dairy vegetarian options, which will be naturally lower in fat and higher in fiber,” she said. “Two good bets—available at many airports—are a veggie burger and a bean burrito found at most fast-food style restaurants.”

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:
Tara Failey
202-527-7319
tfailey@pcrm.org

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