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Calorie labelling timing 'counterproductive and damaging’

Published:  22 June, 2021

UKHospitality (UKH) has urged the government to delay plans for mandatory calorie labelling on menus for six months, stating the additional costs will threaten to derail the hospitality sector recovery from the pandemic.

The timing of the new legislation would be both “counterproductive and damaging", the trade body said.

New calorie labelling rules are due to come into force in April 2022 and will apply to business with 250+ employees. 

The government has already dropped plans to force hospitality businesses to list calorie content on alcoholic drinks, however, it has confirmed plans that calorie labelling will focus on food in the out of home market. 

UKH is arguing that the current timeframe will badly damage the sector at a time when the focus must be squarely on recovery. 

“The vast majority of operators are in survival mode and will be for the foreseeable future,” said CEO Kate Nicholls.

“We therefore urge the government to consider delaying the implementation of this legislation rather than layering on new costs for businesses in a sector that has been hardest hit by the pandemic and risks damaging business’ ability to invest and create jobs,” she said.

She added that the out-of-home sector supports government efforts to increase healthier eating habits, as demonstrated by the proactive actions already in reformulating menus to reduce calories and increase transparency.  

“But with the burdensome requirements of allergen labelling for pre-packed food also coming into effect in October this year, this new legislation adds further costs at the worst possible time. A delay would help ease the pressure and allow the sector to play its full role in the UK’s economic recovery,” she said. 

The trade group has written to public health minister Jo Churchill MP, calling for a delay of at least six months to give firms breathing space and time to get back on their feet following 16 months of closure and severely disrupted trading. 

It highlighted that the new requirements, along with necessary additional staff training, will cost some affected businesses millions of pounds.