Proposals for mandatory menu calorie labelling would be a “burden” for restaurants

UKHospitality is “wary” of the impact that menu calorie labelling could have on an already “under pressure” sector following government measures to reduce child obesity.  

The Department of Health and Social Care confirmed that it will consult on introducing clear, consistent calorie labelling on menus in restaurants, cafés and takeaways, so parents can make an informed choice about what their families are eating.

UKHospitality’s CEO, Kate Nichols, said that such steps could present obstacles for the industry and wouldn’t be as straightforward as they sound.

“The out-of-home sector supports workable efforts to promote healthier eating habits, as demonstrated by the proactive actions already in reformulating menus to reduce calories and increase transparency and choice for customers. However, the introduction of mandatory menu calorie labelling would represent a significant burden for businesses, particularly smaller operators.

“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.”

Mrs Nichols said calorie labelling would also hamper caterers’ 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,” she concluded.

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