In England, ‘out of home’ food businesses with more than 250 employees are now required to display calories of non-pre-packaged food and soft drinks for consumers.
According to the UK Government website, 63% of adults in England are overweight or obese and such conditions cost the NHS an estimated £6.1 billion every year. The introduction of The Calorie Labelling (Out of Home Sector) (England) Regulations 2021 (the “Regulations”) form part of the Government’s wider objective to tackle obesity and its aims are twofold: to help consumers make informed, healthier choices about the food they are eating; and to encourage businesses to produce healthier, less calorific products.
The new Regulations
The Regulations came into force on 6 April 2022 and apply to restaurants, cafes, takeaways, entertainment venues and supermarkets that provide food for ‘on-the-go’.
Under the Regulations, calorie information must be displayed at the ‘point of choice’ i.e. the place where consumers decide on their meal choice.
The menu must display the food’s energy content, the size of the portion to which the energy content relates, and the statement that “adults need around 2000 kcal a day”. This information must be available on menus (whether online or in the business premises through display boards), websites, food labels and third party delivery apps and websites.
Failure to comply with the Regulations may result in the food business being issued an improvement notice by an officer of a food authority. The enforcement notice may include a requirement to take certain measures to rectify the infringement. Failure to take the necessary action as instructed by the improvement notice may result in a fixed monetary penalty of £2,500 being issued by the associated officer.
In 2018, the UK Government consulted on mandating calorie labelling in the out-of-home sector. The consultation included the question ‘Do you think calorie labelling would cause any practical issues for particular businesses?’ to which 65% of respondents answered “Yes”.
In its consultation response, the Government noted that larger businesses, namely those with over 250 employees, should lead the way to creating a healthier and more informed environment for consumers. The UK Government also acknowledged the potential difficulties smaller businesses may have in adopting the requirements.
Although not mandatory, the UK Government is encouraging smaller businesses to introduce calorie labelling in order to play their part in tackling the UK’s obesity problems and health agenda.
This month, the Scottish Government released a consultation paper entitled ‘Consultation on Mandatory Calorie Labelling in the Out of Home Sector in Scotland’. The paper shows the potential for similar regulations to be introduced in Scotland.
In her ministerial foreword, Maree Todd MSP, Minister for Public Health, Women's Health and Sport, notes that the introduction of mandatory calorie labelling would mark a “significant step forward” for Scotland and will allow the public to make healthier choices when eating out or ordering a takeaway meal.
This article was co-written by Jenna Alexander, Trainee Solicitor.