Every year, 50 million adults in the UK eat their meals away from home, with Dinner being the top occasion, with 94% of the vote. And recently since restrictions eased, a lot more people are eating out.
As part of the Government’s strategy to tackle obesity, there are regulations coming into place requiring large hospitality businesses (with 250 or more employees) to display calorie information on menus and food labels in out-of-home food businesses in England.
What are the new Regulations?
There are some businesses that already choose to do this, but the regulations will require the calorie information to be shown on places such as menus (and online menus), packaging, labels and delivery platforms. Interestingly, in a survey conducted by Public Health England, 79% of people said they think that calories should be on menus for food and drink.
These regulations will only be applied to large businesses to avoid impacting smaller/independent businesses that might find it harder to implement.
These regulations are due to come into force in April 2022.
The idea behind this government strategy is to allow customers to make more informed - and perhaps healthier - decisions about the food they eat in order to reduce obesity in the UK. It is “estimated that the NHS spent £6.1 billion on overweight and obesity-related ill-health in 2014 to 2015” and these costs will have only increased in recent years (gov.uk).
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.
An important thing to note is that, at the request of the customer, they can ask for menus without calorie labelling on. This will help those who may find calorie information difficult.
You can find out more detailed information from gov.uk here about the incoming change and more information about how to implement calorie labelling in the ‘out of home’ sector. And for those wanting to start labelling calories on their menus, MenuCal (originally designed to help people know what allergens are in their food) can also calculate the amount of energy (calories) in food or drink.
This isn’t the only legislative change we’ve had recently in Food Safety, check out our “Are you ready for the legislative updates surrounding food allergens?” blog to find out more about Natasha’s Law…
The benefits of calories on menus
- Those tracking calories can do so with ease
- People are able to make more informed decisions
- There might be education on healthier and unhealthier foods for the public
- (This includes educating people about foods they might think are healthy - but are not, for example, a salad is healthy but the dressing, croutons and cheese on top might make it unhealthier than a piece of meat and vegetables)
- Aims to reduce obesity
- It might encourage food businesses to make healthier meals by re-evaluating ingredient
- They may also consider portion control to reduce the calories in a dish
Calories & weight gain/loss
Calories are units of energy. Food contains a certain amount of energy (calories) and we use calories to work out how much a person requires each day.
Generally speaking, people can gain weight through eating or drinking more calories than they use up (through things like exercise) and then our bodies store them as fat. And in turn, those wanting to lose weight will eat fewer calories than they use up - known as a calorie deficit.
On average, men need 2,500kcal a day to maintain a healthy body weight and women need around 2,000kcal a day, but every person is different.
Through the new regulations, the hope is that people will be able to keep an eye on the energy they are consuming. It is already a requirement for prepacked food to have calories on the label but it’s often shown per 100g so it sometimes requires a bit of quick math! But, with the new regulations, it’s likely that the calories in the whole dish will be required.
You can find out more about calories from the NHS here.
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