Literature provides compelling evidence for the health benefits of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) consumption and low n-6/n-3 ratio, in particular, on inflammation and metabolic syndrome prevention and treatment. Consequently, recommendations were established for adequate n-3 PUFA supplies in the general population. The aim of our study was to evaluate the fatty acid (FA) profile in collective catering in relation to those recommendations.

We obtained composition of lunches provided by the Township of Lille (France) to children and adults, and of "standard", "low-fat" and "for diabetic" menus from the catering service of St Luc university hospital (Brussels, Belgium). The average proportions of fish, meat, oils, and dairy were used to estimate total, saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (n-6 and n-3) FA contents. We used official tables of foodstuffs composition provided by the French Agency for Food Safety, the project "Nutritional Composition of Aquatic Products", the French Institute for Nutrition, and the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. French guidelines were taken as reference for daily recommended intakes.

n-3 PUFA content in lunches provided by municipal catering and in in-hospital menus were slightly below recommended intakes. In the latter, n-3 PUFA enriched margarine contributed for 50% to daily intakes. Despite, the n-6/n-3 ratio was too high, especially in municipal catering (around 20), related to excessive n-6 PUFA supply.

Our results highlight that meeting n-3 PUFA nutritional recommendation remains challenging for collective catering. A detailed analysis of provided menus represents a powerful tool to increase awareness and foster improvement in practice.