Calorie labelling an unnecessary disaster for pubs

By Ed Bedington contact

- Last updated on GMT

Should calorie labelling apply to pubs?

Related tags: Calorie labelling, Pubs, Pub & bar, Government, Legislation, Health and safety

Once again the fun police have been let loose on the hospitality sector, and while the sector is used to handling and weathering well-intentioned, but ill-thought out legislation, the timing of the introduction of calorie labelling on menus couldn’t be worse.

As an industry that has been battered by restrictions and closures for the past couple of years, you’d have thought we could be forgiven for wanting a break from the lunacy of health legislation. But no.

And so we now have mandatory calorie labelling on menus for businesses with over 250 employees. Good luck to any new member of staff that’s joining a business of 249 right now…

Public Health and pubs have often had a fraught relationship, mainly down to the lack of understanding from the health bodies about the realities and benefits of the on-trade.

A good pub meal is, often for many, an infrequent treat, and to be reminded that the burger you’re about to scarf has more calories than the average ultramarathon runners snack, is not only unnecessary but is going to be off putting.

Regardless of the evidence that calorie labelling actually causes more difficulties for many people and can be counterproductive, it also creates huge problems for foodservice operators, both in terms of costs, and business impacts.

Business impact

We’re already hearing of businesses that are seeing a drop-off in sales of dessert options, and with the press jumping all over the calorie content of pub classics like the Sunday lunch, we’re probably going to see further unnecessary consumer reaction and a potential down-turn in crucial trade.

But consumers need to be informed with all the information, shout the health bodies, regardless of the fact consumers are actively not asking to be informed with all the information, nor do they want to spoil the treat of a great pub meal by realising they’re consuming the equivalent of an entire day’s meal in one. The reality is that most people going out for a hearty Sunday lunch probably will have skipped breakfast and dinner anyway!

The cost of working out the information, addressing the problems they create, rationalising menus and the long-term impacts on menu flexibility and innovation are huge thanks to this ill-thought out piece of legislation.

If we start to see homogenised, standardised and boring menus moving forward, the sector will be all the poorer for it.

But hey, at least the consumer will be informed about how fat they’re getting.

Related topics: Healthy options

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