Menu app that tells you if a din­ner is slim pick­ings

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Toby McDon­ald

AN app show­ing din­ers the nu­tri­tional value of their menu is set to be rolled out across Scot­land.

The smart tool will be in­tro­duced fol­low­ing calls by an obe­sity watch­dog for manda­tory calo­rie la­belling in cafes, restau­rants and take­aways.

Food Stan­dards Scot­land (FSS) has launched a vol­un­tary trial of MenuCal in seven coun­cil dis­tricts. Nu­tri­tion­ists see it as a step­ping stone to a statu­tory code for the food in­dus­try and con­sumers as Holy­rood pre­pares its strat­egy on diet and obe­sity.

MenuCal is al­ready op­er­at­ing in Ire­land and now Scot­land could be­come first UK na­tion to make the on­line calo­rie counter of­fi­cial.

FSS and the Scot­tish Food En­force­ment Li­ai­son Com­mit­tee have been work­ing on the trial to help in­de­pen­dent cater­ers pro­vide the nu­tri­tion in­for­ma­tion.

Yes­ter­day, Lor­raine Tul­loch of doc­tor-led cam­paign Obe­sity Ac­tion Scot­land said: ‘We want manda­tory la­belling for all meals out of the home.

‘A legally en­force­able ap­proach cre­ates a level play­ing field for all busi­nesses.

‘We have such a prob­lem with obe­sity and poor diet that we need strong ac­tion if we are to change any­thing.’

The cam­paign group was set up by the Royal Col­lege of Physi­cians and Sur­geons of Glas­gow to ad­vise Holy­rood. Mrs Tul­loch added: ‘It is im­por­tant that peo­ple are in­formed be­cause it is so dif­fi­cult to know how many hid­den calo­ries are in some­thing. It is about rais­ing aware­ness for cus­tomers, restau­rants and the cater­ing sec­tor.’

Dr Ian Camp­bell, found­ing chair­man of the Na­tional Obe­sity Fo­rum, backed le­gal en­force­ment, not a vol­un­tary code. ‘I do think com­pul­sory la­belling would be help­ful,’ he said.

‘I’m keen that all sup­pli­ers of food to the pub­lic should be ac­count­able for calorific con­tent.

‘Con­sumers can all too eas­ily be fooled into think­ing their food choices are healthy if the pro­duc­ers tell them so. Far bet­ter that they are able to see, clearly, just what’s in the food they choose.

‘There’s ev­i­dence that con­sumers can use this kind of in­for­ma­tion to make health­ier choices, in­de­pen­dently of what the mar­ket­ing is telling them.

‘Steps like this to make it eas­ier for small busi­nesses to pro­vide this in­for­ma­tion are to be wel­comed.’

Some large en­ter­prises al­ready pro­vide the in­for­ma­tion.

Since 2014, restau­rants and take­aways have been re­quired to la­bel 14 named al­ler­gens but FSS wants to see diet laws ex­tended.

MenuCal, de­vel­oped in North­ern Ire­land, en­ables food firms to cal­cu­late calo­ries per por­tion.

The scheme is be­ing pi­loted at 25 cater­ers in Glas­gow, South Ayr­shire, Ren­frew­shire, Stir­ling, Perth and Kin­ross and the Western Isles.

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment said: ‘We will con­sult on our new diet and obe­sity strat­egy this au­tumn.’

‘Con­sumers can all too eas­ily be fooled’

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