Nutritional labelling on menus will have “significant cost implications” for catering businesses and has not been thought through sufficiently carefully, the British Hospitality Association (BHA) has warned.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) revealed details of a voluntary scheme that will see a number of restaurants including calorie information on their menus from this summer.
It follows last year’s launch of a compulsory scheme in for large restaurants in New York that is estimated to have cut the average intake of consumers by 50-100 calories per meal.
The FSA expects support from across the sector for menu labelling, but BHA chief executive Bob Cotton said the launch has come at the wrong time for hard pressed businesses.
The scheme, although voluntary, may yet be seen as another burden on businesses as it comes on top of the FSA’s decision to introduce a six-tier food hygiene ‘Scores on the Doors’ scheme’,” he said.
“Our greatest fear is that a statutory approach might be adopted if a sufficient number of catering businesses do not take it up. If that happened, individual restaurants just would not be able to cope.”
FSA chief executive Tim Smith stressed that the scheme would not become compulsory. “Something that is not voluntary has not entered my mind,” he said. “It will be consumer power that will drive it – not the Agency. Operators can see the competitive advantage in this.”