Food service operators could be forced to print calorie contents on their menus under Government plans to combat the national obesity crisis.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley has hinted that he will change legislation if operators do not respond to the Food Standards Agency's (FSA) attempts to introduce a voluntary industry-wide code.
In addition to restaurants, cafés and takeaways, the plans could also apply to pubs and bars, with operators listing the calorie content of every glass of wine, pint of beer and spirit measure.
The FSA has been trialling a scheme in which 18 operators, including contract caterer Compass Group, fast food giant Burger King and chains including Pizza Hut and Pret A Manger, have been testing the idea of calorie labelling on menus.
However, it emerged last month that of the companies involved only five have agreed to give a "forward, long-term commitment" to display calories in outlets.
According to a report in The Sunday Times, Lansley, whose department recently took over responsibility for nutrition policy and country of origin labelling from the FSA, now wants to implement a scheme that runs across the industry. The paper added that Lansley was willing to legislate if food firms fail to adopt the system.
However, a spokesman for the Department of Health said: "We are working with industry on a range of options. At present, there are no plans to legislate."
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By Kerstin Kühn
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