Main courses in the hospitality sector could be limited to 951 calories under draft proposals from Public Health England.

The proposal, following discussions with industry bodies, could see restaurants, hotels, pubs,cafes and takeaways forced to limit the calorie content of several specific dishes, including pizza at 1,040 calories, and chips, waffles and mashed potatoes at 416 calories.

Proposed calorie limits include:

:: All convenience meals – 544
:: All restaurant mains – 951
:: Sandwiches – 550
:: Salad (as a main) – 550
:: Pizza – 1,040
:: Portion of chips sold in supermarkets – 302
:: Portion of chips in a restaurant – 416
:: Onion bhaji – 134

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: “Children and adults routinely eat too many calories and severe obesity in 10- to 11-year-olds has reached an all-time high.

“These are early days in the calorie reduction programme but the food industry has a responsibility to act. We are consulting on ambitious guidelines to help tackle everyday excess calories – we welcome the industry’s feedback to help shape the final guidelines.”

The consultation, following further approvals, could roll out in spring. It comes amid concerns that calorie counting and labelling could put extra pressure on an industry already struggling under the strains of skills shortages, business rates and high rents.

In September 2018 UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The consultation does seem to acknowledge that there will be difficulties for some businesses, particularly smaller ones, to implement calorie labelling. UKHospitality has been very clear that any inflexible mandatory requirements will place considerable burdens on smaller businesses and those venues that change their menus regularly.

“UKHospitality will be using the consultation as an opportunity to reiterate that point and highlight the efforts already being undertaken by the sector to provide transparency and choice.

“At a time of economic and political uncertainty, and with costs continuing to rise for employers, the last thing businesses need is additional, unwieldy legislation. We will be making this point forcefully to the government to ensure that any new rules are proportionate and take into account the challenges faced by SMEs.”