The Food Standards Agency (FSA) today insisted it would not be "calorie police" when a trial of nutritional labelling on menus kicks off later this year.
Under the voluntary scheme, announced to an audience of 50 hospitality operators this morning
Restaurateurs have, in the past, raised fears that menu labelling would be unworkable because, for example, the way food is cooked can impact its calorie level.
But Tim Smith, FSA chief executive, said the calorie information on menus would typically be a range rather than a specific number and would rely on restaurants' existing portion control.
"We are not 'calorie police'," he said. "Our enforcement officers will have to tread carefully on this. But of course, if someone is making a health claim, then the regulators will get involved."
The FSA would not reveal names of the early adopters that are trialling menu labelling this summer, but admitted that "at least half a dozen" operators from across the sector are involved.
Smith expects momentum to build quickly once the trial begins. "We are restless to get this information out there," he said. "The quicker we can do this, the better. We would be really disappointed if the industry doesn't get behind this."
By Daniel Thomas
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