Large restaurants must now display calories on menus

A new UK government regulation meaning large hospitality businesses must now display calorie information on menus and food items has come into force. This new law will affect restaurants, coffee shops and take away food business operators with over 250 employees. The government encourages smaller businesses to provide calorie labeling voluntarily.

They have also not ruled out the possibility of extending the legislation to cover all food business operators in the future. Gianluca, General Manager of Italian restaurant Piccolinos on Lapwing Lane in Didsbury, is positive about the new ruling.

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He says: “It’s a good idea. People often don’t know what they are going to eat outside and it is a good idea to educate people so they can make amendments. We have had a positive response so far.”

Mitko Mitev, sales manager of Gusto in Manchester city center is also positive about the new change. He says a new menu is now out in the restaurant, with all the calories in place and he feels it fits in with the current trend for a healthier, fitter lifestyle.

Mitko refers to a ‘My Fitness pal app’ being popular where people can calculate the amount of calories at home and he says he feels people still want calorie control when they go out for meals.

“People often don’t know what they are going to eat”

Allergen information is also legally required to be available to customers. For menu items sold via distance selling – such as on an app or on a website – allergen information must be provided at the point of sale and on delivery of the product.

Mitko says: “So many people now have dietary requirements, it is not simply because they are on a diet. Many people have healthy lifestyles. It is a good idea, 100 per cent.”

But not all restaurateurs agree. London based chef Sven-Hanson Britt made scathing remarks on Twitter. He said: “Calories on menus this week guys. The law kicks in for “large hospitality businesses” to display calorie info on menus.

“What a terrible, terrible thing to happen to the hospitality industry and a waste of time, money and a potential danger – The obsession with calories and calorie counting has proven to be dangerous, potentially leading to eating disorders like bulimia.” Manchester’s Simon Wood, whose flagship restaurant WOOD is situated in on Jack Rosenthal Street in First Street, remarked: “It’s a ridiculous notion. God only knows why it’s even happening. Stupidity.”

simon wood

In order to accurately calculate the number of calories within a menu item, the exact weights and quantities of the ingredients must first be known. Therefore, it is said to be easier and more time efficient for businesses with a consistent menu to calculate and display calories on a menu.

But Britt went on to post: “All of that being said… how do we even trust the establishment to have an accurate display of info? What happens when the head chef whisks an extra 200g of butter into the jus, or only 1/2 a bottle of red was put into the reduction instead of 4, or avocados didn’t come in?.” Her post prompted customers, chefs and hospitality workers around the country to respond with mixed views.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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