As part of the Governments' Obesity Strategy a new bill was laid before parliament that will require large businesses with 250 or more employees in England, including cafes, restaurants and takeaways, to display the calorie information of non-prepacked food and soft drink items that are prepared for customers on menus and food labels from April 2022.
In July 2020, the government published its consultation response on introducing mandatory calorie labelling in the out-of-home sector. The response supported out of home calorie labelling. New proposed legislation has now been laid before Parliament and may be accessed as a draft here The Calorie Labelling (Out of Home Sector) (England) Regulations 2021 (legislation.gov.uk) An overview of the proposals for the Obesity Strategy can be seen here Tackling Obesity Strategy – Range of proposed restrictions reviewed to date - Mills & Reeve: Food Law (food-law-blog.co.uk)
Calorie information will need to be displayed at the point of choice for the customer, such as physical menus, online menus, food delivery platforms and food labels.
There are certain exemptions for particular foods and qualifying establishments; for example exemptions apply where food is available for less than 30 consecutive days or less than 30 days in a year; alcoholic beverages above 1.2% abv are exempt and food prepared in education, medical, charitable establishments, for the armed forces, in work canteens, criminal justice accommodation and care homes. There are certain other exempt food products such as unprocessed products consisting of a single ingredient.
Public Health Minister, Jo Churchill, has stated that by only requiring large businesses to label calories on menus, it will not impact small, independent businesses and will ensure those who might find the requirement more difficult are not impacted.
Some parts of the hospitality industry have responded that this will involve further expense at a time when their businesses are under the utmost strain, also that their ability to change menus and ingredients depending on supply or seasonal variety will be severely impacted.
It is recommended that those businesses who will be affected put in place provisions for review of the information provided on their points of choice ahead of this legislation being in force. Enforcement will be by way of Improvement Notice followed by a fine if the notice is not complied with.
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