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Steve Brine public health minister calorie labelling consultation
Public health minister Steve Brine: We have a right to know the content of the food we give our children
LACA
Government seeks views on out-of-home calorie labeling plan
18/09/2018 - 07:00
Government proposals that would force caterers in schools, hospitals and the workplace to list calories on their menus have begun a three-month public consultation process.

Steve Brine, the public health minister, said: “This is not about forcing anyone to eat certain things or companies to behave in a certain way but I firmly believe we have a right to know the nutritional content of the food we give to our children.

“Type 2 diabetes is on the rise, and is often both preventable and reversible.”

If enacted, the proposals will apply to ‘restaurants, take-away businesses (including those that operate online), fast food outlets, coffee shops, canteens, schools, hospitals and catering enterprises’.

Catering operators would be obliged to provide calorie information where customers make their meal choices, indicating not just the number of calories in a portion but how much of an adult woman’s daily recommended intake it represents.

And they would have to supply this information for all food and drink, including side dishes and toppings as well as buffets, salad bars, sauces and dressings.

Caterers would have 12 months to implement the scheme before it comes into force in spring 2020.

School meals organisation LACA responded: “LACA welcomes the consultation announced calorie counting for food served outside the home.

“All too often people consume foods they perceive to be healthy without knowing that they are in fact eating highly calorific food.

“This consultation demonstrates the seriousness with which the Government take tackling obesity, and we look forward to contributing to this consultation.”

Stewart McKenzie, chair of the Hospital Caterers Association (HCA) added: “As the consultation process on calorie labelling begins, we are happy to support this and delighted of the proposals indicating that hospitals will be included in any recommendations.

“We want to ensure practical measures are put in place but are aware that there could be associated costs to provide this information.

“As an association, our focus is on the health and wellbeing of patients, staff and visitors in hospitals.

“Our offerings should be clear and beneficial, whether to aid recovery or to encourage good nutrition and hydration. Ultimately, this gives patients of all ages the opportunity to steer away from potential obesity.”

The rationale behind the proposals is spelled out by Steve Brine: “The purpose of calorie labelling is to make sure that people have clear and accurate information about the calorie content of the food and drink that they and their families are eating when dining out, so that they can make informed and healthy choices for themselves and their children.

“Nearly one in four children in England are obese or overweight by the time they start primary school, and this rises to one in three by the time they leave primary school.

“Obese children are more likely to become obese adults, and obesity in adulthood increases a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease and a number of cancers.”

Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality, said: ““The consultation does seem to acknowledge that there will be difficulties for some businesses, particularly smaller ones, to implement calorie labelling. UKHospitality has been very clear that any inflexible mandatory requirements will place considerable burdens on smaller businesses and those venues that change their menus regularly.

“UKHospitality will be using the consultation as an opportunity to reiterate that point and highlight the efforts already being undertaken by the sector to provide transparency and choice.

“At a time of economic and political uncertainty, and with costs continuing to rise for employers, the last thing businesses need is additional, unwieldy legislation. We will be making this point forcefully to the Government to ensure that any new rules are proportionate and take into account the challenges faced by SMEs.”

The consultation can be found here.