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Govt ditches on-trade BWS calorie labelling plans

Published:  12 May, 2021

The government has dropped plans to force hospitality businesses to list calorie content on alcoholic drinks, applying to both draught and pre-packaged offerings.

The move, for which plans were first touted last month, was pitched as a bid to tackle obesity in the UK by highlighting “hidden liquid calories”, with the Department of Health considering a consultation on plans to mandate any business with 250 or more employees to display calorie labels. 

However, a briefing document published to accompany the Queen’s Speech yesterday, said that firms with more than 250 employees would be forced to list calories on food, but there was no mention of drinks. 

Downing Street confirmed the plans for calorie labelling would now focus on food and not on drinks, with the Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman stating: “We’ve listened to the feedback from the consultation and we think this is the right approach to take forward now and that’s why we will set out more detail in a consultation response, which is coming out later.”

The plan was, unsurprisingly, greeted with widespread opposition across the hospitality industry, with both UK Hospitality (UKH) and the Portman Group having voiced serious concern. 

At the time Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKH, referred to the proposal as “absurd” at a time when pubs and other hospitality businesses were struggling to survive. 

“The last thing the sector needs after prolonged periods of forced closure is unnecessary red tape that creates yet more burdens for operators, who are simply desperate to get back to running their businesses,” she said.

Matt Lambert, CEO of The Portman Group, added: “The industry, particularly small businesses, has been hit very hard by Covid-19 and can ill afford the further financial burden of costly mandatory labelling changes.”