The UK government implemented on 6 April 2022 a new legislation where all restaurants, cafes and takeaways in England are required to include calorie counts on their menus. The bill was approved in Parliament in 2021 and is compulsory for all institutions that employ more than 250 employees across England, Wales, and Ireland.
A team of journalists at Westminster World covered the story Live as it unfolded in London, gathering and collecting the views and opinions of specialists and Londoners.
While the desire to provide information to consumers is valuable, using calories to do so limits efficacy, and creates an unpleasant and unhealthy milieu for diners who have a difficult relationship when it comes to eating out. The new legislation has divided the public opinion. Some strongly oppose the new law as it may further unhealthy relationships with food. Some agree with the new law as it may help you know better what you eat and put inside your body.
Wagamama CEO Thomas Heier explained why their customers could ask for a menu without information about their calorie counts in order to bring eating out, a comfortable experience: “After two years of working with our charity partners Young Minds, disordered eating for young people is something we’re acutely aware of. As calories become a legal necessity for all restaurants, we’ve decided to offer a non-calorie menu for guests suffering with a challenging relationship with food.”
On the other hand, a pub manager in London, Stefan, expressed his views to Westminster World: “I think it’s good to have calorie information on the menus as it allows people to make a more informed decision when it comes to what they’re consuming. I don’t think when it comes to pubs it would have that much of an impact because when people go for a pub lunch or dinner, I don’t think there necessarily looking for the healthiest meal but instead something wholesome and warm but with other restaurants it very well might.”
He commented when questioned about calorie-free menu options: “no, we’re not offering alternative menus.”
While a poll from Public Health England shows that in 2020, a majority of the public was in favour to the labelling of calories in menus, a new survey from Westminster World (2022), shows instead that few agree to this new legislation.
Image 1 shows Public Health England’s survey on calorie labelling in the UK (21% said NO – 79% said YES). Image 2 showS Westminster World’s poll on calorie counts on menus.
To read the Live Blog on Calorie Count on Menus in full, follow the link: Calorie count on menus – Live Blog