Restaurants and pubs fight back over health body's claim that upselling "tricks" consumers into eating more

07 September 2017 by
Restaurants and pubs fight back over health body's claim that upselling "tricks" consumers into eating more

The restaurant and pub industry has hit back at suggestions that it plays a role in pushing unhealthy food and larger portions on the public.

The Royal Society for Public Health today warned that consumers were being "tricked" by upselling techniques.

A poll suggested that eight in 10 people experienced it every week. The most common upsells to be taken included larger coffees, bigger meals, and extra sides such as onion rings and chips.

Royal Society for Public Health chief executive Shirley Cramer said businesses needed to stop training staff to upsell high-calorie food and focus on healthy alternatives instead.

The findings, drawn from a poll of more than 2,000 adults by the Royal Society for Public Health and Slimming World, found that the most common place for upselling to happen was in restaurants, followed by fast-food outlets, supermarkets, coffee shops and pubs and bars.

But Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) said: "Slimming World is concerned about upselling as a problem for customers' health, but does not pay due recognition to significant efforts and advancements made by eating and drinking out businesses to provide healthier options for customers.

"We should remember that customers have a choice and are ultimately responsible for what they choose to buy, but nevertheless arguably have a healthier range of options to choose from than ever before. Venues have spent time, energy and money into providing greater choice for customers, along with healthier options and a renewed focus on transparency, provenance and transparency."

And Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association told Radio 4's Today programme that: "Telling people what to do is not what you do. You go to a pub and there's a certain amount of free choice. There are actually fewer calories in half a pint of beer than there are in a glass of orange juice."

Meanwhile Nicholls cautioned against linking business rates relief for those businesses dedicated to improving public health. She warned: "While we are supportive of measures to reduce rates burdens for employers. They should not be linked to any requirements relating to food or drink content or portion size. The problem of increased business rates relief is a separate measure and should be treated as such."

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