Government’s big consultation on calorie labelling launched

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Measurement guidelines: the Government is seeking public opinion on calorie labelling
Measurement guidelines: the Government is seeking public opinion on calorie labelling

Related tags Calorie information Calorie labelling

The Government has launched a massive public consultation on calorie labelling for out-of-home food and drink, which could deliver the ultimatum on mandatory calorie labelling on pub food and drink.

Views are being sought from the public on whether or not places that serve food and drink outside of the home should show calorie information.

This could include on menus in pubs, restaurants, cafés, coffee shops and takeaways.

The review will also ask for views on:

  • Which businesses and products should have to display calorie information
  • What information should be displayed alongside calorie information
  • Where the information should be displayed
  • How businesses can put this into practice and whether they will face any issues or obstacles in doing so

“The purpose of calorie labelling is to make sure that people have clear and accurate information about the calorie content of the food and drink that they and their families are eating when dining out, so that they can make informed and healthy choices for themselves and their children,” the report said.

“Nearly one in four children in England are obese or overweight by the time they start primary school, and this rises to one in three by the time they leave primary school.”

Voicing their opinions

Those interested in voicing their opinions on mandatory calorie labelling can do so on the Government’s website.

Watchdogs and the Government have been discussing the implementation of mandatory calorie labelling in pubs and restaurants for several years.

However, the move has been widely criticised by the industry as well as trade representatives.

This month UKHospitality (UKH) warned, ahead of the Government’s consultation, that mandatory calorie labelling could have a significant impact​ on the hospitality sector, with small businesses at the most risk.

UKH chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The knock-on effect would almost certainly mean prices go up and investment in business [would] go down.

“A blanket introduction of inflexible calorie labelling would represent a serious additional cost for businesses already facing tightening margins and economic instability.

'Considerable burden'

“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.”

Meanwhile, the drinks trade rejected a health watchdog’s recommendations for alcohol labelling​ earlier this year.

Despite opposition from those in the on-trade, health bodies including the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) support the move.

Shirley Cramer, RSPH chief executive, said: “As a population, we are eating out more than ever before and from our previous research we know that the public often seek out calorie information for the food they are eating.

"We know that nutritional labelling provides an effective measure when helping individuals, parents and families to make healthier choices, and it is absolutely right that the government has launched this consultation on calorie labelling in places serving food and drink outside of the home.

“While we welcome these proposals, the Government must also continue to take forward other measures to tackle our increasingly 'obesogenic environment' including measures to encourage manufacturers to reformulate their product range, supporting Local Authorities to clamp down on the clustering of fast food takeaways and tackling price promotions and marketing of unhealthy products.”

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