Published: 30th May 2022
Since April, all businesses in the out-of-home sector with over 250 employees have been required to display calorie counts on non-prepacked food and soft drinks. Businesses that fail to comply with these rules could face fines of up to £2,500. This means that if your business is not yet compliant, you should make it a priority to become so.
You must state the energy content of the food in kilocalories. They must also link the calorie content to the size of the portion.
For example, if a business displayed calorie information per 100g of a product, they would have to provide the size of a serving for the customer to make the necessary calculations. If the food is intended for sharing, then the business needs to indicate how many people it is intended to serve.
Businesses must also include the statement “Adults need around 2,000 kcal a day.” This needs to be shown alongside the calorie information, hence it may need to be repeated. For example, if a menu ran to multiple pages, then you would need to have the statement once per page.
There are some exceptions to this rule. In general, they cover fresh, unprocessed foods and foods added by the customer (e.g., condiments). There are also exemptions for food that is only served on a short-term basis (a maximum of 30 days per year and 30 consecutive days) and food created at the customer’s request.
Interestingly, alcoholic drinks are also currently exempt from the new rules. This is despite the fact that alcohol is notoriously high in empty calories.
Finally, there is an exception for food that is created to be served for free. For example, charities, the education sector and the health sector can all offer free food without having to provide calorie information. Paid-for food, however, would still be covered (unless exempted).
There are currently three accepted sources of calorie information. These are:
One key point to note here is that the guidance explicitly refers to information provided by the manufacturer, not the supplier. This means that if you are going to use information provided by a supplier you need to make sure that it comes from one of the accepted sources. In fact, if you’re going to rely on information from a supplier, you may want to update your contract to make this an obligation for them.
In short, the calorie information must be clearly displayed at the point of choice. The rules around what counts as clearly displayed are essentially a matter of common sense. Quite simply, the data has to be visible and legible to the average person. For example, the text needs to contrast with the background and be a reasonable size.
For most businesses, the point of choice will be the menu/display board. This may cause issues for businesses that use paper menus and change them frequently. Overall, however, the actual practicalities of updating menus should be a fairly minor issue for most businesses.
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