If like me, you love eating out but are concerned about the unknown quantity of calories in that bar lunch/slap up meal/take-away, then you will be delighted to learn of the Government’s plans to change all that. A new scheme is being piloted where calorie and nutrition information will be clearly visible in coffee shops, sandwich bars, pizza parlours, restaurants and work canteens, starting in the summer.
The scheme is voluntary, and so far six major food chains have agreed to sign up, while 40 are in talks about the possibility of joining. The Government run Food Standards Agency are behind the idea in a bid to fight the growing obesity problem in the UK.
Chief executive of the FSA, Tim Smith met with the heads of 50 different fast food chains and catering businesses yesterday to kick start the campaign and has high hopes of calorie information appearing in Michelin-starred restaurants.
He said, “I don’t see any compelling reason why we shouldn’t provide that information. If consumers want to ignore it they could, but we would be giving consumers a real choice.”
Almost a third of our household budget goes on eating out - whether it be a quick sandwich at lunch time or a Friday night take-away. A survey carried out by Surrey trading standards in 2007 revealed that one in three pub and restaurant meals contain a whopping 1,500 calories - for a woman on a diet that is all her daily calorie intake in one meal!!
The FSA asked 150 people who regularly eat out and it was obvious from the results that there was a high demand from people to actually know what they were putting in their mouths. In hip New York it is mandatory for restaurants with over 15 outlets throughout the US to display calorie information within the branch.
The FSA are yet to confirm which six companies have agreed to take part, but Pizza Hut themselves have revealed they would be part of a trial to display calorie information at an unspecified number of their restaurants.
McDonald’s already display this information on the bottom of their tray liners, but have said they are involved in discussing the plans of the new scheme.
The dietary campaign group, the Food Commission were happy to hear about the FSA’s new scheme. Their campaign coordinator, Anna Glayzer, said, “ The provision of more nutrition information should be welcomed. However, we want to see this information provided by more than a handful of companies on a voluntary basis.”