Health News

As menus are set to feature calories, we ask if Government should cover the cost

Calorie counts are set to be displayed on menus of all restaurants, cafes and fast-food restaurants as part of a Government plan to tackle soaring obesity levels.

The Department of Health is expected to unveil the new proposals within days to help people make healthier eating choices.

But the Treasury has warned the plans are likely to be “burdensome” for 26,0000 small businesses – forcing them to raise food prices and cut jobs.

While many larger chains, including McDonalds, Pizza Express and Jamie’s Italian, have voluntarily adopted calorie counts, most smaller restaurants and cafes do not include then on menus.

It is estimated it will cost businesses £13million to make the changes.

Now Liz Truss, the chief Secretary to the Treasury, is calling for the Government to show “flexibility in implementing the measures”. She says the move will significantly impact small businesses who will have to precisely add up the calorie content of each dish and print new menus – as well as changing them every time a recipe is altered adding to costs.

Should the Government be flexible to take in the cost and impact to small businesses?

Here, Mike Cherry, from the Federation of Small Businesses, says yes, while Tam Fry, spokesman for the National Obesity Forum, argues rules must be mandatory to all food outlets so people can regulate their intake.


FSB National Chairman, Mike Cherry said: “We welcome the Government’s continued efforts to tackle childhood obesity and create a healthier nation – and small businesses are keen to take part.

“When it comes to menus, we feel however that greater consideration and flexibility must be made to small businesses to help them with the costs and potential bureaucracy, which are harder to absorb compared to larger firms and chains.

“Businesses will have to spend hundreds to work out a precise calorie count and when recipes change, which could well incur additional costs unless regulations are written with small business in mind.

“The impact will hit small businesses in the hospitality industry particularly those who have daily specials on their menus etc which will need regular calorie checks.”


Tam Fry, spokesman for the National Obesity Forum, said: “We are firmly in favour of the government’s decision. In general few people have little idea of what a calorie is. They may know a little more of the recommended count for the day – 2000 for a woman and 2500 for a man – but, at the moment there is no easy way of calculating how many you have got through as the day progresses. The consequence is that we overshoot those figures and eat too much.

“Even those numbers are on the excessive side since they were calculated as a guide for to-day’s population, two thirds of which is overweight. A lower figure would be healthier and therefore Public Health England has recently suggested a top whack of around 1800 – 400 for breakfast, 600 for both lunch and dinner and a couple of hundred for snacks.

“As a significant step to help people keep to this advice and know for sure how much they are eating, the move to make calorie labelling mandatory is excellent.

“Anyone who is preparing food should know how many calories are likely to be in it and be able to display that on the packaging, menu board or counter. This is already voluntarily being done by a large section of the food industry but many sections are not respecting the need for it. They are wrong and if the government is to succeed in its bid to beat obesity, it is correct to consider legislation.”

What’s in your restaurant favourites?

KFC Zinger Tower burger – 620 kcal

Subway Italian BMT foot long – 824 kcal

Chicken Cottage chicken nuggets – 638kcal

Costa Italian Mozzarella, tomato and basil panini – 509kcal

Starbucks blueberry muffin – 409kcal

Nandos fino pitta (two Peri-Peri chicken thighs with halloumi) – 813

Pret a manger posh cheddar and pickle – 621 kcal

Pizza Express Margherita classic – 729 kcal

Gourmet Burger Kitchen 6oz classic burger – 673kcal

Wetherspoons large breakfast – 1,499 kcal

Jamie’s Italian straight up lasagne – 533 kcal

Wagamama chicken katsu curry – 1145 kcal

Beefeater 10oz ribeye steak and chips – 1021kcal

Harvester the original combo (quarter portion of chicken, half of rack of ribs and corn) – 636kcal

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