MP Derek Thomas is urging West Cornwall’s café and restaurant owners to take part in a Government consultation which he believes could have a significant effect on their business.
As part of its childhood obesity strategy, the Department of Health wants to make it a legal requirement for restaurants, cafes and takeaway outlets to print the number of calories of dishes on their menus.
Some big chains like McDonalds and Wetherspoons already print the calories of dishes on their menus but Mr Thomas says that this move will place an unnecessary burden on small business owners and lead to job cuts.
“The Treasury estimates that working out the precise calorie count of individual dishes could cost up to £500 for each menu and the business owner would face further costs every single time the menu changes,” said Mr Thomas
“Childhood obesity is a massive problem and the Department of Health is right to focus on ways of combating the issue but I fear that this proposal will place an unnecessarily harsh burden on independently run cafes and restaurants with limited resources.
“The Treasury Secretary, Liz Truss MP, has already expressed her concerns about the proposal but I would encourage everyone who works in the food industry to take part in the Department of Health consultation and let them know exactly what the ramifications of introducing this move are likely to be.”
Ann Vandermeulen, Cornwall Development Manager for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Issues of accuracy in calculating calories and nutrition would mean each business would probably need costly access to a laboratory or special equipment to do it properly.
“The time taken to get results would stifle creativity in menus and production and every item served would have to be weighed and exactly measured.
“Who would enforce it and how would businesses cope with the possibility of yet another penalty or fighting it if they were found not to comply?
“Surely it makes better sense to invest more in creative ways of educating the public better about food. Then customers can take responsibility with their personal knowledge about calories and make healthier choices rather than handing businesses yet another social problem to fix.
“Let’s ask businesses to offer healthy options and give them support to do that, as it’s good for business, but please don’t ask them to be the “food police” and give them another cost or another thing to do in these difficult times.”
The consultation ends at midnight on Friday, 7 December; to take part, visit: consultations.dh.gov.uk/obesity/mandating-calorie-labelling/