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Mandatory calorie labelling could cause ‘serious burden’, warns UKHospitality

UKHospitality has warned that the introduction of inflexible mandatory calorie labelling could present a “serious burden” for hospitality businesses.

The warning follows reports that the government is preparing the launch of a consultation on a requirement for businesses to provide calorie labelling on menus. The Department of Health is proposing the legislation to combat child obesity.

The trade body said smaller businesses would “struggle to cope” with the one-size-fits-all approach, resulting in an increase in prices and decline in investments. UKHospitality also said mandatory labelling could undermine businesses’ efforts to tackle food waste.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: ““A blanket introduction of inflexible calorie labelling would represent a serious additional cost for businesses already facing tightening margins and economic instability. It would also represent a considerable burden for those venues that change their menus regularly, some on a daily basis, to incorporate locally sourced produce, seasonal ingredients and specials.

“Small and medium-sized businesses might also find their ability to innovate, particularly when tackling food waste, severely restricted. We are supportive of efforts to promote healthier eating habits and sector is already taking decisive, proactive action to reformulate menus to reduce calories and increase transparency and choice for customers.”

She added: “Many larger venues already include calorie content on their menus voluntarily, with many high street brands providing customers with unprecedented level of information. But even larger businesses, operating numerous distinct brands, rely on the flexibility provided by voluntary labelling.”

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