Calories will be labelled on menus and food labels in out-of-home food businesses from April 2022, the government has announced.
Regulations will be laid in parliament tomorrow that will require large businesses with 250 or more employees in England, including cafes, restaurants and takeaways, to display the calorie information of non-prepacked food and soft drink items that are prepared for customers.
Calorie information will need to be displayed at the point of choice for the customer, such as physical menus, online menus, food delivery platforms and food labels.
The measures, which form part of the government’s wider strategy to tackle obesity, will help to ensure people are able to make more informed, healthier choices when it comes to eating food out or ordering takeaways.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the impact that obesity can have on people’s health and health outcomes.
It is estimated that overweight and obesity related conditions across the UK cost the NHS £6.1 billion each year. Almost two-thirds (63%) of adults in England are overweight or living with obesity – and 1 in 3 children leave primary school overweight or obese.
Public Health Minister, Jo Churchill, said:
“Our aim is to make it as easy as possible for people to make healthier food choices for themselves and their families, both in restaurants and at home. That is why we want to make sure everyone has access to accurate information about the food and drink we order.
“These measures form an important building block in our strategy to support and encourage people in achieving and maintaining a healthier weight.”
By only requiring large businesses to label calories on menus, it will not impact small, independent businesses and will ensure those who might find the requirement more difficult are not impacted. The government will work with the food and drink sector and local authorities to ensure the regulations are implemented smoothly.
In July 2020, the government published its consultation response on introducing mandatory calorie labelling in the out-of-home sector. The response supported out of home calorie labelling and the government confirmed it will legislate this as part of its strategy to empower people to lead healthier lives, with these regulations now being laid.
In a Public Health England survey on calorie reduction, 79% of respondents said they think that menus should include the number of calories in food and drinks.
The recently announced Office for Health Promotion will lead national efforts to improve and level up the health of the nation by tackling obesity, improving mental health and promoting physical activity.