This is surely a further example of big brother interference. While I appreciate the necessity to monitor the incredible increase in obesity — virtually world wide — this can only apply to fast food restaurants. I cannot see legislation being levelled at Heston Blumenthal or Gordon Ramsay. While it may not be that healthy, a starter of Coquille St Jacques, followed by a Tournedos Rossini and finishing with a Sticky Toffee Pudding and Caramel Sauce takes some beating for flavour — and certainly calories!
The proposal, following on from consultations with the industry and other stakeholders, could see restaurants forced to curb the calorie content of several specific dishes, including pizza at 1,040 calories, and chips, waffles and mashed potatoes at 416 calories.
However, the industry is less restricted under the guidelines than other food providers, with coleslaw, potato salad, onion bhajis, pakoras, vol-au-vents, tempura prawns, Yorkshire puddings and prawn cocktails limited to 134 calories in supermarkets and 555 calories at restaurants.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: “Children and adults routinely eat too many calories and severe obesity in 10- to 11-year-olds has reached an all-time high.
“These are early days in the calorie reduction programme but the food industry has a responsibility to act. We are consulting on ambitious guidelines to help tackle everyday excess calories – we welcome the industry’s feedback to help shape the final guidelines.”
The consultation, following further approvals, could roll out in spring. It comes amid concerns that calorie counting and labelling could put extra pressure on an industry already struggling under the strains of skills shortages, business rates and high rents.
In September 2018 UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The consultation does seem to acknowledge that there will be difficulties for some businesses, particularly smaller ones, to implement calorie labelling. UK Hospitality has been very clear that any inflexible mandatory requirements will place considerable burdens on smaller businesses and those venues that change their menus regularly.
“UK Hospitality will be using the consultation as an opportunity to reiterate that point and highlight the efforts already being undertaken by the sector to provide transparency and choice.
“At a time of economic and political uncertainty, and with costs continuing to rise for employers, the last thing businesses need is additional, unwieldy legislation. We will be making this point forcefully to the government to ensure that any new rules are proportionate and take into account the challenges faced by SMEs.” (small and medium size enterprises)
With the law also pushing for restaurants to list contents of their dishes so as to avoid fatal allergies, the need to start calculating calorie/carbs/proteins/fat contents for a restaurant will cripple an already struggling industry.
I am reminded when Michael Winner, famed film director and latterly food critic, was offered a 50.000 pounds advance to write a book on how he had lost so much weight he told the publishers that his advice was not worth that amount of money. The book would be very short it would just say: ‘Eat Less Food’!
(Some content courtesy of the Caterer and Hotelkeeper)