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UKHospitality ‘wary’ as UK plans listing calories on restaurant menus

Jeremy Hunt has announced that the government is considering forcing restaurants to publish calorie information on their menus.

During the announcement Hunt said that the government would consider exemplifying smaller businesses from the changes, however he said “all the big chains that we go to, they must give people that information”.

Other major cities such as New York already have similar regulations in place that require restaurants and cafes to display calorie numbers for prepared food. UKHospitality CEO Kate Nichols told Catering Today her organisation was “wary” of the new changes, adding “mandatory menu calorie labelling would represent a significant burden for businesses, particularly smaller operators”.

Hunt said that the new plans were to “give power to parents to make healthier choices, and to make their life easier in doing so”.

But the UKHospitality feels the move is one step too far with Nichols saying: “Many venues already choose to show calorie content on their menus, with many high street brands giving customers an unprecedented level of information but the reality is that smaller businesses will struggle to do so.

“It would impose a serious additional cost for many businesses facing tightening margins, increased operating costs and wider economic instability. Furthermore, it would hamper venues endeavours to incorporate seasonal ingredients and specials to attract custom, as well as restricting smaller restaurants’ ability to innovate, particularly when tackling food waste.

“Furthermore, calorie labelling would largely fall outside of the Government’s targeting of obesity among lower income children, as obesity in that demographic is less likely to be caused by dining in restaurants.”

Hunt plans to half childhood obesity by 2020, his plan includes further advertising restrictions that limit the number of adverts for unhealthy food on programmes aimed at children, along with looking at banning the sale of energy drinks to young people.

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