Mandatory calorie labelling is a potentially “retrograde” step that would pose significant problems for hospitality businesses in Scotland, UKHospitality has claimed.
The trade body issued the warning after Food Standards Scotland recommended that the Scottish Government introduce the labelling at all out-of-home food business.
UKHospitality executive director for Scotland Willie Macleod said that while the organisation was supportive of promoting healthier attitudes to food and drink, the introduction of mandatory labelling was a potentially “retrograde” step.
He said: “Many businesses have already taken action to reformulate menus, reduce calories and increase the level of choice and transparency for customers. Businesses have done this already on a voluntary basis and customers are now better informed than they have ever been.
“Introducing mandatory labelling is potentially a retrograde step that would cause significant problems for some businesses, particularly SMEs. Smaller businesses would likely struggle to cope with an inflexible one-size-fits-all approach.
He added that a blanket introduction of mandatory labelling would represent a considerable additional cost for businesses already facing tightening margins at a time of unprecedented political uncertainty.
He said that particular burdens would be place on venues which regularly change their menus to incorporate locally sourced produce and seasonal ingredients.
Macleod continued: “Small and medium-sized businesses might also find their ability to innovate, particularly when tackling food waste, severely restricted. The end result is likely that prices would go up and investment would go down with much less choice for customers.
“Any mandatory polices that are introduced solely in Scotland will also cause inconsistencies and additional burdens for businesses that operate UK-wide. We need consistency in the rules to avoid unnecessary pressure and the potential for confusion.”