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Restaurants drop out of calorie count scheme

26 July 2010
Restaurants drop out of calorie count scheme

The majority of hospitality operators that took part in a Food Standards Agency (FSA) trial of labelling menus with calorie information have failed to commit to the scheme, it emerged today.

The trial, which launched last summer, saw 18 of the UK's largest restaurants, sandwich chains and workplace caterers printing calorie counts next to products on the shelves, on menus or next to tills.

The FSA hoped the trial would lead to consumers having access to calorie information whenever they ate out of the home, part of a wider effort to address growing levels of obesity.

But chains such as KFC and Burger King have failed to commit to extending the trials, while others, such as Pizza Hut and Mitchells & Butlers have abandoned theirs, The Independent reported today.

Only one major company of 18 firms that tested the idea, Pret A Manger, now displays calories next to all its products, the newspaper said.

The FSA says now that only five firms have agreed to give a "forward, long-term commitment" to display calories in outlets: Pret A Manger, Wimpy, Co-operative cafés, the Camden Food Company and the Real Greek, which has six restaurants in London.

However, Compass Group has insisted that it is still fully committed to menu labelling despite The Independent suggesting it has "abandoned" the trial.

A spokeswoman for the catering giant told Caterersearch that it has rolled out calorie labelling on its Core Concepts range, which is available at more than 1,300 workplaces.

"We have created a database of recipes that have been nutritionally analysed, and all new recipes in our Core Concepts range will be analysed so we can provide calorie and GDA labelling for each of them," she added.

"We are also revisiting previous recipes and nutritionally analysing them as well. Hundreds of recipes now carry calorie labelling and this is growing continuously."

The FSA said it recognised that some operators may want to await the publication of final recommendations before making a decision to pull out of the scheme or roll out more widely.

"We are currently reviewing the numerous responses we have had to our consultation on a calorie labelling scheme, and the trial undertaken last summer, which was independently evaluated and is just one element we are using to inform the development of our recommendations," an FSA spokesman said.

"We received responses from a broad range of external organisations, including many from the hospitality industry, which have generally been very positive."

Rival caterer Sodexo has not committed to rolling out the menu labelling more widely at this stage, but said it would do so "where appropriate".

Claire Morris, marketing director, Sodexo UK and Ireland, told Caterersearch: "During the trial we found that calorific labelling was more well-received in some parts of the business than others. As part of our continued drive to help educate customers about the food choices they make, we will continue to display calorific labelling where appropriate across our business."

Menu labelling is too costly >>

Compass Group backs menu labelling scheme >>

FSA insists it won't be calorie police for menu labels >>

Restaurant chains in NYC must display calorie count on menus >>

By Daniel Thomas

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