The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has warned the government’s consultation on mandatory calorie labelling for the out-of-home sector could be ‘damaging for pubs’.
If enacted, the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) consultation, could result in restaurants, pubs and any other establishments that serve food or drinks being made to provide calorie information on menus.
It seeks public views on which specific businesses and products should show calorie information, what type of information should be shown along with calories, where the information should be listed and how businesses can tackle any issues faced with calorie labelling.
DHSC said: “The purpose of calorie labelling is to make sure that people have clear and accurate information about the calorie content of the food and drink that they and their families are eating when dining out, so that they can make informed and healthy choices for themselves and their children.”
However, BBPA is against mandatory labelling and argues that it has little effect on consumer behaviour.
BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “Mandatory calorie labelling will be hugely detrimental for pubs and we would urge DHSC to look at more collaborative ways to work with the sector instead.
“Many pubs already voluntarily choose to provide information about the food they serve to help customers seeking to make healthy choices. The overwhelming evidence suggests that forcing pubs to display calorie content would have no tangible impact on behaviour.
“Calorie labelling will be prohibitively expensive for the sector, in particular for the vast majority of those pubs which are small businesses. Considering the cost burden pubs already face from beer duty, business rates, VAT and staffing costs, mandatory calorie labelling could be another nail in the coffin for many pubs.
“Our great British pubs are iconic and at the heart of communities across the UK. We should be helping, not hindering, pubs. DHSC should consider collaborative ways of working with the sector to help consumers who wish to make healthier food choices. However, should mandatory measures be imposed we would urge exemptions for smaller businesses such as pubs.”
The consultation began on 14 September and ended on 7 December. It is currently under review.