Early last year, the government announced a call to action for all restaurants, cafes and takeaways with more than 250 employees to add calorie information to menus and food labels. This April, it comes into effect.  

This represents a wider agenda to tackle the issue of obesity and help educate customers to make more informed decisions when it comes to eating food out of home, or when ordering takeaways.  

The rules apply to all non-prepacked food and soft drink items that are prepared for customers. 

The new rules have been debated across the country as we emerge into a post-pandemic world whereby hospitality and out-of-home are arguably two of the hardest hit areas of the UK economy.  

These changes have been referred to as costly and restrictive for these brands. For example, if a business is needing to reprint labels and rethink higher calorie dishes, will there be less versatility and innovation on our menus as a cost-saving tactic? 

Whilst the regulations aim to avoid the hit to smaller businesses and independents, are the regulations a glass ceiling for growth? We may well see growing businesses actively avoiding hiring over the threshold as a way to save on new processes. 

Many question the legislation altogether, or its relevance in our favourite eateries. Arguably, eating out is often an escape from calorie counting, where a customer may decide on something more indulgent as a treat. 

Nutritionists have weighed in on the debate too. Calories are by no means the only indication of a healthy, or non-healthy dish or product. In fact, many argue that greater emphasis needs to be placed on sugar and salt which is seemingly a larger focus for the government’s Ban on Junk Food Advertising, scheduled to be implemented in 2023 (also known as, HFSS). 

Whilst public health is of great importance, particularly post-Covid where overweight individuals struggled more with the symptoms of a respiratory illness, there is a crucial argument here for mental health too. Calorie counting has long been synonymous with eating disorders and can be incredibly triggering for sufferers.   

With the new rules scheduled in for little over two months’ time, it will be interesting to see how the rollout will impact consumer behaviour and these Hospitality businesses, many of which are on the slow road to recovery.  

To find out more about the calorie counting legislation and a comms campaign for your business, email emily@palm-pr.com