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Expert Guides

Calorie information on menus


The British Government implemented a law that requires all businesses to display calorie information on menus.

Calorie labelling legislation

Currently, in the UK, we live in an obesogenic environment. Out-of-home dining accounts for approximately 20-25% of peopleā€™s diets. This is leading to an extra 200 calories being consumer per person, per day compared to eating at home. The government passed the legislation to include calories on menus as part of their obesity strategy. The aims are:

The legislation requires all businesses with more than 250 employees in the out-to-home sector to display calorie information per serving on menus at the ā€˜point of choiceā€™. These outlets include cafes, restaurants, and take-aways. This includes physical and online menus and all other delivery platforms. The legislation will be reviewed after 5 years. In the meantime, it is also voluntary and recommended for smaller businesses to consider providing calorie information.

Best practice for displaying calorie information

Note: Menus without calorie information can be provided if requested by a customer. It is at the catererā€™s discretion whether the request is feasible, practical and reasonable.

Examples of foods that are exempt from calorie labelling

Tips to display calorie information

Meal deals and build your own

Includes deli and salad bars. Provide calorie information for each individual item. It is not necessary to display calories for food items that are on ā€˜special offerā€™ or that have been on the menu for less than 30 days.

Coffee and tea menu boards

Provide calorie information on the menu board for the standard milk on offer i.e., semi-skimmed milk. Refer customers to a menu that displays the calorie contents for the other milk varieties available.

Sharing platters or whole cakes

Provide the calorie information for the whole item along with how many people it should serve.

Calorie calculations

It is the businessā€™s responsibility to ensure the calorie information provided is as accurate as possible. Unfortunately, many variables can make calculating calorie content complex and time-consuming. Using nutritional software is beneficial and helps reduce the labour required.

BM uses a nutritional software. This provides us with the following:

Note: There is inherent variation in ingredients. There is a 20% variable that will be an acceptable margin between the declared and the actual calorie values.

Implementing calorie legislation: the keys to success




How will the legislation be enforced?

Enforcement officers are responsible for ensuring that caterers comply with the legislation. They will be looking for:

Tip: When following the 30 days exemption, itā€™s important that evidence is kept and dated.

Remember: Enforcement officers are looking for a proven system and a through thought process.

Further information from official websites: Calorie labelling in the out of home sector: implementation guidance