Calo­rie la­bels are recipe for dis­as­ter, warns restau­rant trade

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Han­nah Ut­t­ley

RESTAU­RANTS have said they could be crip­pled by a White­hall push for manda­tory calo­rie la­bels on menus as the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try fights for sur­vival.

Pub and restau­rant bosses said the plans could deal a fresh ham­mer blow to the be­lea­guered in­dus­try as it emerged that hos­pi­tal­ity out­lets lost close to £30bn in sales dur­ing the se­cond quar­ter of 2020.

As part of its new obe­sity strat­egy, the Gov­ern­ment plans to make calo­rie list­ing on food menus com­pul­sory at all restau­rants, pubs, cafes and take­away busi­nesses which em­ploy more than 250 peo­ple.

It will also en­cour­age smaller com­pa­nies to vol­un­tar­ily pro­vide calo­rie in­for­ma­tion and will con­sider en­forc­ing this in the fu­ture.

The chief ex­ec­u­tive of one ma­jor fast food chain said the plans are akin to “us­ing a sledgehamm­er to crack a nut”.

Kate Ni­cholls, chief ex­ec­u­tive of trade group UKHospi­tal­ity, said that com­pa­nies will be forced to spend an av­er­age of £30,000 to £60,000 on calo­rie mea­sur­ing equip­ment so they can abide by the rules, at a time when funds are bru­tally short fol­low­ing months of clo­sure.

The rules will be more bur­den­some for smaller firms which change their menu fre­quently – po­ten­tially harm­ing ef­forts to pro­mote re­gional and sea­sonal food such as game or Bri­tish­farmed veg­eta­bles.

Min­is­ters are con­sid­er­ing mak­ing the rules en­force­able by Trad­ing Stan­dards, with the in­dus­try told to pro­vide ac­cu­rate calo­rie in­for­ma­tion rather than a rough guide.

Ms Ni­cholls said: “In or­der to get an ac­cu­rate as­sess­ment of calo­rie lev­els for a par­tic­u­lar dish, busi­nesses are re­ally go­ing to have to in­vest in quite a bit of tech­nol­ogy to be able to cal­cu­late it.

“If you are a big busi­ness or a chain then your menu might change once or twice a year, but it could also change be­cause you’ve switched sup­plier and used dif­fer­ent in­gre­di­ents.

“Th­ese are con­sid­er­able ad­di­tional cost bur­dens at a time when busi­nesses are strug­gling to break even.

The Gov­ern­ment’s plans were re­vealed as data busi­ness CGA said that hos­pi­tal­ity sales tum­bled 87pc in the se­cond quar­ter of 2020, equiv­a­lent to nearly £30bn in lost rev­enue.

The col­lapse in sales fol­lows a to­tal lock­down of restau­rants, pubs, bars and ho­tels from mid-March. As a re­sult sales to­talled just £4.6bn from April to June, down from £34.2bn in the se­cond quar­ter of 2019.

Min­is­ters will also launch a new con­sul­ta­tion on al­co­hol calo­rie la­belling as part of their strat­egy to make the coun­try health­ier, in­clud­ing for drinks sold in pubs such as draught beer.

The Bri­tish Beer and Pub As­so­ci­a­tion urged the Gov­ern­ment to con­sider more col­lab­o­ra­tive ways to work with the in­dus­try, in­clud­ing pro­mot­ing low and no-al­co­hol beers.

Emma McClarkin, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the BBPA, said: “Mak­ing calo­rie la­belling manda­tory for all beer, in­clud­ing draught beer, is un­nec­es­sary and bur­den­some at a time where many smaller brewers are strug­gling to re­cover from the im­pacts of the pan­demic.”

Fast-fash­ion re­tailer Boohoo has an­nounced plans to launch a ‘model fac­tory’ in Le­ices­ter in a bid to en­sure work­ers are treated fairly

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