New calorie labeling rules come into effect to improve the nation’s health

  • The government is also encouraging small businesses to adopt calorie labeling as part of its drive to improve the nation’s health and tackle obesity levels.
  • Part of the government’s ongoing efforts to improve the health of the nation

From today (Wednesday 6 April 2022) new rules come into force requiring the display of calorie information on menus and food labels.

The changes – which were passed by Parliament in 2021 – mean that it is now a legal requirement for large companies with more than 250 employees, including bars, restaurants and takeaways, to view calorie information for non-prepackaged foods and soft drinks. .

Calorie information will need to be displayed on menus, online menus, third-party apps, food delivery platforms, and food labels at the time a customer is making their food and drink choice. In addition to listing the calories for each food, menus and labels will also need to include the recommended daily calorie requirement.

The legislation, which is part of the government’s strategy to fight obesity, aims to ensure that people can make more informed and healthier choices when it comes to eating out or ordering take-out. Displaying calorie information can also encourage companies to provide low calorie options for their customers.

Overweight and obesity-related conditions across the UK are estimated to cost the NHS £ 6.1 billion annually. Nearly two thirds (63%) of adults in England are overweight or living with obesity and 40% of children drop out of primary school overweight or obese. Obesity is also the second leading cause of cancer in the UK.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has highlighted the impact obesity can have on people’s health, and as part of its drive to improve the nation’s health, the government is also calling on small businesses to adopt labeling. caloric.

Public Health Minister Maggie Throup said:

It is vital that we all have access to the information we need to maintain a healthier weight, and this starts with knowing how caloric our food is. We are used to knowing this when we shop at the supermarket, but this is not the case when we eat out or take out.

As part of our efforts to address inequalities and improve the nation’s health, these measures are a key element in making it as easy as possible for people to make healthier food choices.

The most recent official data shows that in the period from 2019 to 2020 there were over one million hospital admissions in which obesity was the primary or secondary cause, with an increase of 17% compared to 2018 to 2019 when there were 876,000 hospitalizations related to obesity.

Bridget Turner, Director of Policy, Campaigns and Improvement at Diabetes UK, said:

Obesity is the biggest risk factor for type 2 diabetes and there are an estimated 13.6 million people at increased risk of developing the condition in the UK.

Tackling this health crisis is key, so the government’s commitment to have large restaurant, bar and takeaway chains label the calories of the food they sell is a welcome move towards reducing rising levels of obesity in the UK.

Diabetes UK has campaigned strongly for these measures through our Food Upfront campaign. We hope it brings these great out-of-home businesses more in line with the food retail industry when it comes to providing people with clear calorie information for the food they buy, hopefully leading to better menus and healthier options.

There are some exemptions from the legislation, including foods that are on a menu for only 30 days a year or less and all alcoholic beverages above 1.2% ABV.

The legislation will be enforced by local authorities with the Department of Health and Welfare supporting them with the additional costs of applying the policy. Local authorities are encouraged to converse with companies that do not comply with the law first. Local authorities can issue improvement notices. Anyone who fails to comply with a warning could be guilty of a misdemeanor and could be fined £ 2,500.

Buying food on the go or take out food is increasingly important to people. On average, the portions of food or drink that people eat out or eat as take-out meals contain twice the calories than their store-bought equivalent, where labeling is much more common. Research suggests that the food people eat outside the home accounts for 20 to 25 percent of adults’ calorie intake

In an Office for Health Improvement and Disparities survey of calorie reduction, 79% of respondents said they believe menus should include the number of calories in food and drink.

The types of activities covered by the requirement include:

  • restaurants, fast food restaurants, bars, pubs and supermarkets
  • home delivery services and third-party apps for the sale of food that fall within the scope of the legislation
  • cafes and takeaways in larger shops and venues, such as supermarkets, department stores and entertainment venues such as cinemas
  • specialty food shops, delicatessens, pastry shops and bakeries
  • contract catering – for example for events and canteens
  • domestic transport activities, including air, rail, ferry and other forms of water transport within the UK

As part of the government’s obesity strategy, we have also introduced regulations to limit the promotion of less healthy foods based on location and volume pricing in-store and online, which will take effect in October 2022, and through the health and assistance law, restrictions on advertising less healthy foods on TV before 9pm and through paid online advertising.

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