Fears mount for kitchen operators over consultation plans for mandatory calorie labelling

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.

UKHospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said: “Mandatory calorie labelling could have a significant impact on the hospitality sector, particularly smaller businesses that would struggle to cope with the huge burden of a one-size-fits-all approach.

“The knock-on effect would almost certainly mean prices go up and investment in businesses goes down. There is also a serious potential that mandatory calorie labelling would undermine businesses’ efforts to tackle food waste which is a growing concern for consumers and an area of innovation for businesses.”

Mrs Nicholls suggested 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.”

UKHospitality said it is supportive of efforts to promote healthier eating habits and noted that the sector is already taking decisive, proactive action to reformulate menus to reduce calories and increase transparency and choice for customers.

“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,” said Mrs Nicholls.

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