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Mandatory calorie display plan for Scotland a ‘retrograde step’

21 August 2019 by
Mandatory calorie display plan for Scotland a ‘retrograde step’

Mandatory calorie displays will put a “significant burden” on Scotland’s food businesses, UKHospitality has said in response to proposals.

Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has recommended the Scottish government introduce the measure across all out-of-home food businesses in a bid to make eating out a “healthier experience”.

Proposals also include requiring a range of healthy food and drink choices to be included on children’s menus and setting a compliance standard for the public sector.

FSS said a consultation had showed strong support for such measures, with 68% of respondents backing mandatory calorie labelling.

UKHospitality’s executive director for Scotland, Willie Macleod, said that while the industry body supported efforts to promote healthy attitudes, such measures would be a “retrograde step” that would cause operators “significant problems”.

He continued: “A blanket introduction of mandatory labelling would represent a considerable additional cost for businesses already facing tightening margins at a time of unprecedented political uncertainty.

“It would also represent a considerable burden for those venues that change their menus regularly, some on a daily basis, to incorporate locally sourced produce, seasonal ingredients and specials. Small and medium-sized businesses might also find their ability to innovate, particularly when tackling food waste, severely restricted. The end result is likely that prices would go up and investment would go down with much less choice for customers.

“Any mandatory polices that are introduced solely in Scotland will also cause inconsistencies and additional burdens for businesses that operate UK-wide. We need consistency in the rules to avoid unnecessary pressure and the potential for confusion.”

Ross Finnie, chair of Food Standards Scotland, had argued: “With two out of three people either overweight or obese in Scotland and a sharp increase in the volume of takeaways being ordered, action is needed to transform the current food environment for our health.

“The health and wellbeing of people in Scotland continues to be at the heart of what we do at Food Standards Scotland. Consumers should have the information they need to make choices and have a right to know the calories in the food they’re eating out of home. Evidence shows that when people are aware of calorie content in food, it can influence their choices towards lower calorie options and encourages businesses to make the food they offer healthier.”

Parliament in Westminster launched its own consultation into mandatory calorie labelling at the end of last year, when UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “UKHospitality has been very clear that any inflexible mandatory requirements will place considerable burdens on smaller businesses and those venues that change their menus regularly.”

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