UKHospitality is urging the Government to delay plans for mandatory calorie labelling on menus in the out of home sector, saying that the additional cost threatens to derail hospitality’s fragile recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
New calorie labelling rules are due to come into force in April 2022 and will apply to business with 250+ employees. However, UKHospitality contends that the current timeframe will badly damage the sector at a time when the focus must be squarely on recovery.
The association has written to Public Health minister Jo Churchill MP, calling for a delay of at least six months, giving sector firms valuable breathing space and the best possible chance to get back on their feet following 16 months of closure and severely disrupted trading. A delay would also allow businesses the time to fully engage on the detail and have systems ready in place.
While UKHospitality says it is supportive of the Government’s aims to reduce obesity and increase consumer choice, the new requirements, along with additional staff training, will significantly increase cost on affected businesses. New and expensive technical systems for nutritional evaluation may also have to be applied to precisely calculate calorie content. The timing of this new legislation, the trade body says, will be both counterproductive and damaging.
UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “The vast majority of operators are in survival mode and will be for the foreseeable future. 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.
“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 and choice for customers. We are keen to continue working closely with officials on the detail of this legislation, so it delivers for both consumers and businesses.
“But with the burdensome requirements of allergen labeling 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.”