Proposed menu calorie information display requirements
The Draft Calorie Labelling (Out of Home Sector) (England) Regulations 2021 are the UK Government’s latest proposed measure to tackle obesity and are proposed to take effect from 6 April 2022.
The regulations will require all businesses with 250 or more employees offering food for sale in a form suitable for immediate consumption (whether on the premises or off), which are not already subject to existing pre-packaged labelling requirements, to clearly display the calorie information of a single standard portion of the food, together with a statement that “adults need around 2,000 kcal a day”. These requirements will apply whether the food is ordered in person or online.
The regulations contain various exemptions, limiting their scope somewhat.
Food which is exempt includes:
- condiments provided alongside food (not as part of it)
- food which is on a menu for less than 30 consecutive days and/or less than 30 days in total across the year
- drinks containing more than 1.2% alcohol
- food which is not normally offered by a business but made following an express request by a customer (including preparing food, which is on the menu, differently to how they usually would)
- if sold for consumption off premises, fresh fruit and vegetables or other unprocessed products consisting of a single ingredient; loaves of bread or baguettes; and fish, meat or cheese provided they are not added to other food or offered for sale as an ingredient in food with multiple ingredients are also exempt
- food provided free of charge in medical establishments or to residents in social care
- food provided at under 18 educational establishments
- food provided by charities or sold to raise money for charity at an event
- food served within the armed forces (save for at military canteens)
- food served on aircraft, trains or ferries making international journeys
Some businesses are also considered “exempt”. These include certain 18+ educational institutions; canteens for employees at workplaces; military establishments or criminal justice accommodation; hospital or other medical establishments; and care homes or other institutions providing social care. This exemption does not however apply if the catering services at these institutions are provided by a separate business which has 250 or more employees.
What counts as a small business?
To calculate the number of employees a business has, both full-time and part-time employees will count. In addition, for the purposes of these regulations, some franchisees will be treated as part of the same business as their franchisor.
Smaller businesses (i.e. with less than 250 employees) will not be required to comply with the regulations, however the government is encouraging them to voluntarily put in place similar measures and has not ruled out extending the regulations to cover them also at a later date.
Penalty for non-compliance
Local authorities will have an obligation to enforce these regulations. They will be able to hand out improvement notices in the event of non-compliance following which a business has an opportunity to take remedial steps. If the business fails to comply with the notice, the local authority can ultimately hand out a fixed monetary penalty of £2,500 as an alternative to prosecution.
Future Legislative Direction
Notwithstanding some uproar by businesses in the food and drink sector that these regulations and the associated costs in complying with them are unwelcome and should be delayed following over a year of reduced business and limited custom due to COVID-19 restrictions, the government appears to be pressing ahead.
These regulations are only one of the measures proposed by the Government back in July 2020 in its fight against obesity, with proposed bans on junk food adverts on TV before 9pm and at all times of day online, alongside ending ‘buy one, get one free’ (BOGOF) promotions on such food as well as bans on their placement in prominent areas in stores also planned.
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This article was prepared by Stefan Dingelstad.