Pub chains will have to show calorie labels on menus

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Queen's Speech: fresh legislation will force large employers to display calorie labels on menus (image: Getty/ littleny)
Queen's Speech: fresh legislation will force large employers to display calorie labels on menus (image: Getty/ littleny)

Related tags Food Legislation Health and safety Calorie labelling Parliament Coronavirus Boris johnson

Some pubs will be forced to display calorie counts for dishes on menus, it was revealed in the Queen’s Speech.

The Government intends to bring in fresh legislation forcing hospitality businesses with more than 250 employees to label food to tackle obesity.

Secondary legislation will be introduced to mandate large pub businesses to label food on sale, according to a briefing note.

Unveiling the Government’s plans for the year ahead, the Queen said the Government’s main focus was to "deliver a recovery from the pandemic” which also supported businesses.

Calorie proposals were touted earlier this year, leading businesses to stress that there could not be a worse time to bring in further restrictions on venues.

UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls tweeted that proposals published prior to the pandemic “would have had very significant operational costs for hospitality".

The Government should endeavour to tackle obesity in a “business-friendly way,” Nicholls added.

She added: “Hospitality shares the Government’s objectives in tackling obesity. However, there are flaws and risks in some of the approaches that Government could take, so we would urge close and meaningful consultation with businesses, in order to produce proportionate, informed and well considered legislation.”

It is understood that proposals to force operators to display calorie labels for pints have been ditched and it will just be for food.

Obesity strategy

The Department of Health confirmed to The Morning Advertiser (MA)​ it would be launching a consultation “soon” on the issue of labelling alcohol, when asked last month.

Suggestions that big pub chains would be forced to display calorie labels on pints of beer were dubbed “outrageous” and described as “costly and complicated” by the trade.

A Government spokesperson stressed no decisions had yet been taken when approached in April.

Mandatory labelling would knock the industry when it was already struggling, trade bodies and pub bosses previously remarked.

Chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, Emma McClarkin said the suggestions were “ludicrous” given pubs had a long recovery ahead.

Expensive regulation

“Now is not the time to heap burdensome and expensive regulation on our pubs,” she added. “Our pubs are on their knees and the Government already knows this."

The proposals also posed a threat to consumers’ wellbeing and enjoyment of pubs, the CEO said.

“The British people have had months without going to their local. It has been tough mentally and socially,” McClarkin said. “Let them enjoy it again and let our businesses rebuild.

“We must remember that after so much enforced isolation, the pub has an important role to play in tackling loneliness and improving mental health.”

Eating disorder charities have also expressed concern with the proposals in the past, as reported by The MA.

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