Calorie labelling on menus to be introduced in cafes, restaurants and takeaways
This week, Government announced that following a lengthy consultation period, they will introduce mandatory calorie labelling to all businesses in the out of home sector (cafes, restaurants, takeaways) with more than 250 employees in England. The Government, Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) issued the following press release, alongside introducing the legislation to Parliament.
- Government renews drive to tackle obesity and improve the nation’s health
- Large businesses will be required to display calorie information on menus and food labels from April 2022
- Rules will help the public to make healthier choices when eating out
Calories will be labelled on menus and food labels in out-of-home food businesses from April 2022, the government has announced.
Regulations will be laid in parliament tomorrow that will require large businesses with 250 or more employees in England, including cafes, restaurants and takeaways, to display the calorie information of non-prepacked food and soft drink items that are prepared for customers.
Calorie information will need to be displayed at the point of choice for the customer, such as physical menus, online menus, food delivery platforms and food labels.
The measures, which form part of the government’s wider strategy to tackle obesity, will help to ensure people are able to make more informed, healthier choices when it comes to eating food out or ordering takeaways.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the impact that obesity can have on people's health and health outcomes.
It is estimated that overweight and obesity related conditions across the UK cost the NHS £6.1 billion each year. Almost two-thirds (63%) of adults in England are overweight or living with obesity – and 1 in 3 children leave primary school overweight or obese.
Katharine Jenner, Campaign Director for Action on Salt and Action on Sugar, said: “This new announcement is long overdue but a very welcome first step into levelling up between retail and the hospitality sector. It is grossly unfair that the Out of Home sector has been allowed to hide their unhealthy dishes for so long, when it has been shown clear labelling helps people make healthier choices and encourages chefs to make healthier recipes.
“Research shows that eating out accounts for 20-25% of adult energy intake. When someone dines out or eats a takeaway meal, they consume, on average, 200 more calories per day than if they eat food prepared at home. That's the equivalent of a whole bottle of cola. Calorie labelling is therefore a necessary step towards preventing obesity, and it also has support from customers. 79% agree that menus should display the number of calories in food and drinks and 60% would be more likely to eat at an establishment that had calorie labelling on its menus. Businesses will be able to have menus without calories available on request for those that don’t wish to see them.
“The covid pandemic has shown us the need to protect our health and prevent conditions such as obesity, which is why it’s imperative that the hospitality sector does not procrastinate until the new legislation comes into force. Now is the time to step up and introduce transparent, nutritional labelling across products, menus, online and Apps and put the nation's health before profits.”
Public Health Minister, Jo Churchill, said:
“Our aim is to make it as easy as possible for people to make healthier food choices for themselves and their families, both in restaurants and at home. That is why we want to make sure everyone has access to accurate information about the food and drink we order.
“These measures form an important building block in our strategy to support and encourage people in achieving and maintaining a healthier weight.”
By only requiring large businesses to label calories on menus, it will not impact small, independent businesses and will ensure those who might find the requirement more difficult are not impacted. The government will work with the food and drink sector and local authorities to ensure the regulations are implemented smoothly.
In July 2020, the government published its consultation response on introducing mandatory calorie labelling in the out-of-home sector. The response supported out of home calorie labelling and the government confirmed it will legislate this as part of its strategy to empower people to lead healthier lives, with these regulations now being laid.
In a Public Health England survey on calorie reduction, 79% of respondents said they think that menus should include the number of calories in food and drinks.
The recently announced Office for Health Promotion will lead national efforts to improve and level up the health of the nation by tackling obesity, improving mental health and promoting physical activity.
Notes to editors
- Public Health England - Calorie reduction: The scope and ambition for action. Published March 2018: Calorie reduction: The scope and ambition for action (publishing.service.gov.uk)
- Within the Regulations, the government has a provision which permits businesses to provide a menu without calorie information at the express request of the customer. As a result, people who may find viewing calorie information more difficult may be able to avoid this information in certain situations when eating out.
- The consultation was announced as part of the Government’s strategy: Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives announced in July 2020. More information can be found here: Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Consultation responses on mandating calorie labelling in the out-of-home sector can be found here:https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/903714/Calorie_Labelling_-_Consultation_Response.pdf