Menu calorie counts could be scrapped as Government reviews anti-obesity strategy

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Menu calorie counts could be scrapped as Government reviews anti-obesity strategy

Related tags Calorie labelling Calorie information Fast food Restaurant QSR Government Legislation Liz Truss

Larger hospitality businesses in England may no longer be required to display calorie counts on menus after Government ministers ordered an official review of its anti-obesity strategy.

The review – which was ordered by the Treasury – could pave the way for Prime Minister Liz Truss to scrap measures designed to deter people from eating junk food, The Guardian ​reports​. 

A ban on sugary products being displayed at checkouts, 'buy one get one free' multi-buy deals in shops, and restrictions on advertising certain products on TV before the 9pm watershed could also be ditched.

Calorie labelling on menus for businesses that employ 250 or more staff came into force in England on 6 April​. Under the rules venues must display calorie counts ‘clearly and prominently’ at the point of choice – typically a menu – along with the statement that ‘adults need around 2,000 kcal a day’.

The review is seen as part of the Prime Minister’s drive to cut burdens on business and help consumers through the cost of living crisis.

Whitehall sources told The Guardian ​that the review was 'deregulatory in focus' and is expected to lead to the new government jettisoning a raft of anti-obesity policies inherited from Boris Johnson, Truss’s predecessor in Downing Street.

The review is reported to be so radical in scope that it may even look at whether the sugar tax, which began in 2018, should go too.

“There doesn’t seem to be any appetite from Thérèse [Coffey – the new health secretary] for nanny state stuff,” one source said.

Researched published earlier this summer​ revealed that calorie counts on menus are having an impact on diners’ eating habits and dish choices.

The research from customer experience platform Feed It Back of almost 60,000 diners found that calorie counts on menus have more of an impact on the younger age group, with almost half of 18- 24-year-olds saying it is likely they would change their meal choice to a lower calorie option, compared to just 35% of over 65s.

More than a third of diners (41%) said they were likely to change their dish for something with lower calories when they are visible when ordering, although 48% of say they were indifferent or not interested at all in them.

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