Dr. Becky Maes - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Becky Maes

Is Sodexo's Food Bad For You?



Short answer

Sodexo is not healthy. They are a mass produced food service company with great marketing. The food may sound healthy, but it is heavily processed and high in carbohydrates, fat, and chemicals.



Long answer

Sodexo, considered a world leader in quality of life services, is headquartered in the Paris suburbs and currently represented in over 80 different countries.  As one of the largest companies in the world, its 420,000 employees represent 130 different nationalities.  Formerly called Sodexho Alliance, the company is comprised of two separate divisions: food services and facilities management. Its revenues exceeded 15 billion euros for the first 9 months of 2015. Its US headquarters are located in Gaithersburg, MD.

The Sodexo operation’s two separate entities encompass “on-site solutions” and “motivation solutions”. The many organizations served include corporations-both from the private and government sector, educational facilities from elementary through university, medical clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, military installations, and correctional facilities. In addition, Sodexo provides services for conference and convention centers, sporting event venues, family and cultural destinations such as museums, zoos, aquariums, and gardens. Sodexo is also responsible for many vending and convenience services.

With a team of professional chefs, registered dietitians, and suppliers that cater to a world of cultural preferences, Sodexo creates menu options that appeal to 75 million consumers daily. Sodexo currently provides food for 500 school districts and over 850 university and college campuses worldwide.

Since 2009, Sodexo has been on the forefront of making children’s school lunches more nutritious, partnering with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The Alliance is a joint initiative between the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation, with a mission of significantly reducing childhood obesity in the US by 2015. Additionally, in 2014, Sodexo pledged to add healthier options to the vending and lunch programs.

Sodexo has been allegedly adjusting and revamping recipes and marketing the healthier lunchroom options to grab the attention of hungry students.  Embracing Cornell University’s principles from the Smarter Lunchrooms movement, this initiative encourages healthier food choices through low- or no-cost strategies. Ideas like rearranging foods to make the healthier options easier to reach, renaming products in kid-friendly, enticing names, and offering samples, are just a few of the techniques that encourage students to choose more nutritious foods.  Unfortunately, many children complain that they are not getting enough food on their plates.  Some of the ‘enticing names’ are simply the same old stuff in disguise.  For example, if your child orders the orange chicken (or other Chinese food options), they can expect to receive some chicken nuggets from the prior day doused in orange sauce.  The chicken nuggets are still the heavily processed chicken nuggets that more unhealthy than those served at some fast food places.  Many of the products have the appearance of healthy but are far from it.  Some of the popular items on school menus include pizza dunkers (bread stuffed with cheese dipped in sauce), chicken nuggets, corn dogs, mac and cheese, and pizza, served at least once per week.)

There have been at least nine boycotts of Sodexo Services on college campuses for alleged low employee pay and unethical treatment of workers, former investment in private prisons, and lack of local food options.

As recently as 2013, all Sodexo sourced frozen beef products in the UK were removed from the market due to the discovery of horse DNA in a sample.  Though horse is a delicacy in some countries, it is not acceptable to list any item as beef that is not beef.  Due to the fact that Sodexo serves so many different organization with so many food options, it is difficult to find an elaborate ingredients lists.  However, the majority of the food is highly processed and shipped frozen to the destination.  When looking at a menu that said “whole grain pizza”, I asked to see the box that it came in and was told, “It is not really whole grain”.  The best option is to opt out of the school lunch program or free conference lunch and pack a nutritious “horse-free” organic lunch.

Possible short-term side effects

  • stomach discomfort

Possible long-term side effects

  • obesity
  • hypertension
  • heart disease
  • other side effects unknown, due to various unknown chemicals

Ingredients to be aware of

  • fat
  • high sodium
  • unknown processing chemicals

Healthier alternatives

  • healthy, homemade lunch

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by DeeAnne Oldham
Published on: 03-09-2016
Last updated: 08-26-2017

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by DeeAnne Oldham
Published on: 03-09-2016
Last updated: 08-26-2017

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