The Food Standards Agency last week announced that a number of leading hospitality companies would be trialling calorie labelling on menus this summer. Chief executive Tim Smith explains more
When I met with leading operators last Thursday (15 January), I called for companies to play a vital role in shaping this work. Two major names - Pizza Hut and Subway - have already publicly welcomed the step to introduce voluntary calorie labelling.
Others have told us they, too, want to participate in the development of a suitable approach - proof that it is both achievable and a worthwhile commercial investment. I am confident even more will follow.
Many companies are already doing an excellent job in providing healthier meals and further nutrition information for customers. A number of market leaders across different sectors have worked with us to make public commitments outlining the progress they are expecting to make in this area. We anticipate further commitments from others throughout 2009. We are also offering catering companies and other interested organisations the opportunity to get involved in an advisory group to steer future consumer research in this area - so there is plenty of scope to get on board.
After our announcement, the British Hospitality Association voiced some concerns about calorie labelling and suggested that the agency hasn't thought this through (see News, page 5).
Not only have we done a lot of thinking, but we are taking action, engaging with companies across the sector and at different levels to ensure the people we want to deliver on this work have had an opportunity to influence it from the start.
The public have got used to acting on nutritional information when they shop for food, and they have told us that clear information when they eat out is the obvious next step. I believe that with a collaborative approach we can achieve consistent information that consumers want in a way that suits the diverse range of businesses out there, without having to go down a legislative route.
I fully appreciate that this is one of the toughest trading climates in decades. The catering industry is nothing if not innovative - this is why I am confident that forward-thinking companies will see this as a way to win a competitive edge, and we will support them in every way we can to help make it happen.
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