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UK enforces new calorie labeling rules
banana bread on diet scale

New legislation requiring calorie information to be displayed on menus and food labels applies to large businesses such as takeaways, restaurants and cafes in the UK,  as of April 6, bakeries included. The government is also encouraging smaller businesses to adopt calorie labeling in an effort to improve consumer health and tackle obesity levels, the Department of Health and Social Care announced. The new rules apply to large businesses with more than 250 employees.

Calorie information must be displayed on menus, online menus, third-party apps, food delivery platforms and food labels: the calories of the food items as well as the daily recommended calorie intake. Displaying calorie information may also encourage businesses to provide lower-calorie options for their customers, the authority said. Research suggests that food consumed outside the home makes up 20 to 25% of adult calorie intake.

Weight-related conditions across the UK cost the NHS GBP 6.1 billion each year, data shows, with almost two-thirds (63%) of adults in England being overweight or living with obesity and 40% of children leave primary school overweight or obese. Obesity is also the second biggest cause of cancer across the UK.

Public Health Minister Maggie Throup said: “It is crucial that we all have access to the information we need to maintain a healthier weight, and this starts with knowing how calorific our food is. We are used to knowing this when we are shopping in the supermarket, but this isn’t the case when we eat out or get a takeaway.”

The most recent official data shows that in 2019 to 2020, there were over one million hospital admissions where obesity was the primary or secondary cause, an increase of 17% on 2018 to 2019 when there were 876,000 obesity-related admissions.

There are some exemptions to the legislation including food that is only on the menu for 30 days of the year or less.

As part of the government’s strategy to combat obesity, additional regulations will come into force in October 2022, restricting the promotion of less healthy foods by location and volume price in-store and online, and advertising them on TV before 9 pm and via online paid for advertising.

Photo: Adobe stock