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Calorie labelling price tag unknown

Katie Coyne27/09/2018 - 12:35

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Calorie labelling planned for restaurants
Calorie labelling planned for restaurants

Calorie labelling on foods in restaurants could help to combat child obesity but enforcement could be costly, the Local Government Association has said.

The Department of Health and Social Care plans to introduce calorie labelling on food eaten outside the home and is consulting on how best to implement it.

Labelling would cover restaurants, cafes, pubs and takeaways, and online businesses that sell food or drink for takeaway or home delivery.

EHOs currently enforce allergy labelling so it is likely that enforcement of the new regime would also become their responsibility.

The Local Government Association has welcomed the move. However, it added that for it to be a success, councils must be given the funding for enforcement.

Ian Hudspeth, chair of the LGA community wellbeing board, said: ‘Making calorie labelling mandatory for businesses serving food will give consumers and parents more informed choice and a better understanding of how healthy a particular snack, meal or drink is.

‘However, enforcement comes at a cost – mandatory calorie counts on menus will create a new financial burden for councils and must be fully funded.

‘We would like assurances from government that other proposals in its childhood obesity plan – such as bans on the sale of high-energy drinks to children under 16 and curbs on products sold at shopping counters – will not add any additional financial burden on hard-pressed council enforcement teams and small businesses.’

The consultation notes that nearly one child in four in England is overweight or obese, caused by the ‘regular overconsumption of a relatively small number of calories’.

It adds that ‘making this information available can help people to make informed and healthy choices’. The DHSC aims to half childhood obesity by 2030.

The Financial Times has reported that the Treasury could block the plans on the grounds that it would be too ‘burdensome’ financially to business.

Many supermarket cafes already provide calorie labelling and fast-food giant McDonald’s introduced calorie labelling seven years ago.

Calorie labelling for on-the-go food for chain retailers was introduced in New York, US, just over a year ago by the city’s mayor, Bill de Blasio. New York retailers must also post nutritional information.

The UK government has also announced a ‘trailblazer’ pot of funding for local councils with ideas to tackle childhood obesity. Initially 12 local authorities will be supported to develop practical plans. Five will be selected for three years of support, including £100,000 a year and expert advice.

The calorie labelling consultation closes on 7 December.


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