Calorie Labelling on Menus could Save Lives
Is a new calorie labelling law on restaurant menus coming for all food businesses?

As part of a national obesity strategy, a calorie labelling law was introduced in England for businesses with 250+ employees in April 2022. Now some scientists argue calorie labelling on menus should be extended and made mandatory for all food businesses to prevent unnecessary deaths.

Their argument is compelling. More than 9,000 heart disease-related deaths could be prevented in England over the next 20 years if all food businesses - takeaways and fast food outlets, restaurants, cafes, and pubs - added calorie information to their menus. These findings have been published in the Lancet Public Health - “Effect of calorie labelling in the out-of-home food sector on adult obesity prevalence, cardiovascular mortality, and social inequalities in England: a modelling study.”

In contrast only 730 deaths from cardiovascular disease would be saved under the current system (The Calorie Labelling (Out of Home Sector) Regulations), which applies to larger companies with over 250+ employees - around 18% of all food businesses.

The Public Health Benefits of Calorie Labelling on Restaurant Menus in the UK

Calorie labelling on restaurant menus can empower consumers to make healthier food choices. Over time, even small reductions in calorie intake could contribute to a healthier lifestyle and reduced obesity levels. As such, similar legislation is being considered for Scotland and Wales.

One in four adults in England currently live with obesity, which can lead to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Obesity is a significant risk factor for several life-threatening conditions, like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. Under current menu labelling regulations in England, the obesity prevalence would be reduced by 0.31 percentage points, whereas the full implementation of the law would reduce this by 2.65 percentage points (over two decades). (Lancet Public Health)

One policy will not fix the obesity crisis

Calorie labelling on restaurant menus - even when widened to all businesses - is only part of the solution. One of the authors of the modelling study, Dr. Zoe Colombet said:

“We encourage the Government to continue with, and strengthen, the England obesity strategy with a wide range of policies, such as calorie labelling, tackling junk food marketing, and the soft drinks industry levy, which will both reduce obesity and narrow the shocking health inequalities gap in our society.”

Policy-makers need to consider a range of factors about this proposal on calorie labelling, such as cost-effectiveness, the impact on consumers - and importantly businesses - and how the policy is monitored.

But what about the unintended consequences, such as triggering those with eating disorders or vulnerable to developing them - encouraging an unhealthy focus on numbers and restriction? Menu calorie labelling may also encourage consumers to choose foods based solely on calorie count instead of considering the overall nutritional value.

Calorie labelling on menus - what does it mean for food businesses?

Calorie counting certainly poses a challenge to food businesses. We understand that determining accurate calorie labelling for menus can be taxing, especially for smaller businesses or those with frequently changing menus.

When the Calorie Menu Labelling Regulations for businesses with 250+ employees were introduced, we knew we had to help our customers become compliant - cost-effectively, with minimum fuss. Our award-winning label software, LabelLogic Live ensures that businesses are covered - no matter what size.

Our labelling app can calculate and add legally compliant calorie information to your labels, shelf edge cards, and deli tickets in a few clicks. LabelLogic Live incorporates a full nutritional recipe builder enabling you to display nutritional tables and Reference Intakes, including calorie information, and create menus with ease.

Therefore, if you are required by law to publish the calorie content of your food and drink products, we offer a range of ticketing and menu options for use in or on displays, buffets, chillers and other shelving as well as on walls and tables. Our app is also here to ensure all our customers stay compliant if the Calorie Labelling Laws are adapted or become stricter.

While the debate rages around the relationship between accurate Calorie Labelling on Menus and its potentially huge benefit to public health, at least be reassured you can count on LabelLogic Live.

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