National Healthy School Canteens

Trainer's Manual

SITHCCC035A - Develop menus to meet special dietary and cultural needs

Page last updated: 22 October 2013

Unit descriptor

This unit describes the performance outcomes, skills and knowledge required to develop menus and meal plans for all Australians, including meeting specific dietary and cultural needs. The unit focuses on the knowledge and skills required to meet nutritional requirements in the preparation of meal plans, diets and menus. The menu may be developed with or without the direction of a dietician or medical specialist, depending on the job role. This unit does not cover preparation and cooking of food to meet dietary and cultural needs which is addressed in SITHCCC029A Prepare foods according to dietary and cultural needs.

Nor does it focus on general menu planning principles involving budgetary and marketing concerns, which are covered in SITHCCC040A Design menus to meet market needs. Evidence is required of knowledge and understanding of a range of different cultural, dietary and special requirements.

However, the focus of this range will vary according to the target markets of a particular workplace. Special dietary needs include therapeutic and contemporary regimes as well as customer requests. No licensing, legislative, regulatory or certification requirements apply to this unit at the time of endorsement.

Employability skills

The required outcomes described in this unit of competency contain applicable facets of employability skills. The Employability Skills Summary of the qualification in which this unit is packaged will assist in identifying employability skills requirements.

Prerequisite units


Application of the unit

This unit applies to those responsible for developing menus in all catering operations where food and related services are provided such as restaurants, educational institutions, health establishments, defence forces, cafeterias, kiosks, cafes, residential catering, in-flight and other transport catering, events catering and private catering. Those undertaking this role would be supervisors or managers and may be chefs or others such as catering managers.

Competency field

Commercial Cookery and Catering



Elements and Performance Criteria

Elements describe the essential outcomes of a unit of competency.

Performance criteria describe the required performance needed to demonstrate achievement of the element. Where bold italicised text is used, further information is detailed in the required skills and knowledge and/or the range statement. Assessment of performance is to be consistent with the evidence guide.

ElementPerformance Criteria
1. Identify the dietary and cultural requirements of customers.1.1 Identify the dietary and cultural requirements of different target groups through consideration of all appropriate factors
1.2 Take into consideration contemporary dietary trends and regimes in assessing dietary requirements.
1.3 Liaise with dieticians, medical specialists or other relevant people in order to identify and confirm requirements, where appropriate.
2. Develop menus and meal plans to meet dietary and cultural requirements.2.1 Select a variety of suitable foods, meals and menus for specific requirements taking account of Dietary Guidelines for Australians and menu planning principles.
2.2 Develop menus and meal plans that promote good health and reduce the incidence of diet- related health problems, in consultation with relevant people and according to job role.
2.3 Prepare cyclic menus when required and balance them in terms of nutritional requirements and variety.
2.4 Recommend food preparation and cooking methods to maximise nutritional value of food.
2.5 Identify appropriate combinations of food to meet macro and micro nutrient requirements.
2.6 Take into consideration special needs, including texture, composition and portion size.
2.7 Incorporate sufficient choice of dishes into the menus.
2.8 Cost menus to comply with costing constraints.
2.9 Use correct terminology in menus and meal plans.
3. Evaluate meals and menus.3.1 Evaluate meals and menus to ensure customer satisfaction.
3.2 Adjust menus as required to ensure dietary needs and goals are met.

Required Skills and Knowledge

This section describes the essential skills and knowledge and their level required for this unit. The following skills must be assessed as part of this unit:
  • cookery techniques and recipe modification to suit special dietary requirements
  • literacy skills to read and write menus and recipes
  • communication skills to liaise with dieticians and relevant people, clarify requirements, provide information, and listen to and interpret information and non-verbal communication
  • numeracy skills to calculate nutritional values of foods and menus and to calculate cost of menus.
The following knowledge must be assessed as part of this unit:
  • basic principles and practices of nutrition, including:
    • nutrients and their food sources
    • influences on food choice
    • food labelling requirements and interpretation
    • food additives and preservatives
    • health implications of food choices
  • 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines
  • Australian Guide to Healthy Eating
  • dietary sensitivities, including food allergies and intolerances, diabetes and other medical conditions
  • existence of drug–food interactions, and the health and legal consequences of failing to address special requirements
  • commodity knowledge of ingredients suitable for meeting basic nutritional and special dietary needs
  • effects of various cooking methods and food storage on nutrients.

Range Statement

The range statement relates to the unit of competency as a whole. It allows for different work environments and situations that may affect performance. Bold italicised wording in the performance criteria is detailed below.

Dietary requirements may include:
  • vegetarian
  • vegan
  • modified sodium or potassium
  • low-fat or low-cholesterol
  • lacto-ovo
  • high-fibre
  • gluten-free
  • high or low-energy
  • diabetic
  • modified texture
  • high or low-protein
  • fluids
  • exclusions for allergies and food intolerance.
Cultural requirements may include the dietary requirements or sanctions and cultural needs of any ethnic, cultural or religious group, including:
  • kosher
  • halal
  • vegetarian
  • Hindu.
Target groups refer to all sectors of the population and may include:
  • infants
  • children
  • adolescents
  • athletes
  • the aged.
Factors to be considered when identifying the dietary and cultural needs of target groups may include:
  • age requirements
  • lifestyle
  • food preferences
  • food restrictions or allergies
  • physical condition
  • nutritional requirements
  • those with varying nutritional and energy
  • requirements due to physical condition
  • cultural or religious needs.
Contemporary dietary trends and regimes may include current trends and fashions such as:
  • vegetarian
  • low-fat, low-carbohydrate or low-kilojoule
  • macrobiotic.
Menus and meal plans may be developed to address the requirements of individuals or larger target audiences, including:
  • daily meal plans
  • daily or weekly menus
  • cyclic menus
Methods used to evaluate diets and meal plans, and analyse foods may include:
  • computer programs
  • customer feedback questionnaires
  • interviews with customers and health support
  • personnel
  • nutrition guides.

Evidence Guide

The evidence guide provides advice on assessment and must be read in conjunction with the performance criteria, required skills and knowledge, the range statement and the Assessment Guidelines for this Training Package.

Critical aspects for assessment and evidence required to demonstrate competency

Evidence of the following is essential:
  • ability to prepare a variety of menus and meal plans to meet different dietary and cultural needs
  • knowledge of commodities required to meet particular dietary and cultural needs
  • knowledge of the consequences of failing to address special dietary requirements
  • project or work activities that allow the candidate to develop menus to meet multiple and differing dietary and cultural needs.

Context of and specific resources for assessment

Assessment must ensure:
  • use of real customers with special dietary needs from different target markets.

Methods of assessment

A range of assessment methods should be used to assess practical skills and knowledge. The following examples are appropriate for this unit:
  • evaluation of menus and meal plans prepared by candidate involving a variety of target markets and purposes
  • case studies to assess ability to develop menus and meal plans for different target groups and circumstances
  • written or oral questions to test knowledge of nutrition, cultural and dietary requirements
  • review of portfolios of evidence and third-party workplace reports of on-thejob performance by the candidate.
Holistic assessment with other units relevant to the industry sector, workplace and job role is recommended, for example: