Wake-up call: have you counted your calories?

24 March 2022
Wake-up call: have you counted your calories?

The Calorie Labelling Regulations are almost here, so it pays to ensure you're ready for that and other legislation, says Maggie Allen

In less than a month the new UK Calorie Labelling Regulations for the out-of-home food sector, which covers everything from takeaway cafés and restaurants to food delivery services, will come into effect. From 6 April, any business with 250 or more employees will have to implement calorie labelling on their food.

The mission of the regulations is clear: to inform consumers, improve general health, and combat unnecessary waste. However, they come at an inopportune time for the hospitality sector, which is only beginning to emerge from a challenging two years of intermittent lockdowns. For many businesses, the introduction of new requirements is seen as yet another hurdle to jump.

Following the UK's exit from the European Union, labelling changes will also apply to pre-packaged food sold in Britain from 1 October. From this date, all packaging or food labels on pre-packed food products must include a UK address for the fixed-base operator (FBO) or, if the FBO is not in the UK, the address of the UK importer. Non-compliance could result in penalties and fines.

Additional regulations are likely to be enacted in the coming months and years due to increased pressure on governments to protect consumers. These regulations will impact a wide range of products, including baby food and alcohol. Since a 2021 congressional report exposed the levels of heavy metals present in baby food, US regulators have turned their attention toward contaminations. As a result, laws including the Baby Food Safety Act and the FDA's ‘Closer to Zero' action plan have been ratified. According to this plan, the FDA will start to implement measures to eliminate lead in baby food in April 2022. Action for other heavy metal contaminants, PFAs, acrylamides, and BPAs will likely gain traction in the coming years.

Additionally, recent calls from the Alcohol Health Alliance have warned that alcohol labelling in the UK is woefully inadequate. The alcohol industry is currently free to decide what information it will and won't include on its products, thereby endangering consumers who cannot make informed decisions about their drinking.

How to prepare

Ahead of these changes, food and beverage businesses must assess whether their current labelling and artwork management systems are flexible, efficient and robust enough to make the quick pivots necessary to keep pace with an ever-evolving regulatory climate.

By switching to a cloud-based labelling solution, businesses can manage limitless variations by dynamically changing labels based on what needs to be displayed, thus simplifying the route to compliance and avoiding penalties, fines and product recalls.

Maggie Allen is senior account executive of labelling company Loftware


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