The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, T.D., has opened a consultation period with food businesses inviting relevant operators to comment on the proposed mandatory printing of calories on menus.
If enacted, the proposed law would see the introduction of mandatory calorie posting in premises selling non-packaged foods including restaurants, takeaways, fast food outlets, coffee shops, cafés, catering companies, delicatessens, and pubs.
A small number of food businesses, primarily chains and multinationals, are already posting calories on their menus on a voluntary basis. This consultation includes questions directed specifically at those businesses in order to learn from their experience of adding calorie counts to their menus.
Voluntary calorie labelling legislation has been in place since 2015 however has seen a low uptake amongst individual operators. As part of the national Obesity Policy and Action Plan 2016-2025, the government plans for mandatory calorie labelling across all foodservice businesses.
The results of this consultation will assist in the development of the draft legislation.
Industry bodies have reacted negatively to the consultation period.
Padraig Cribben, Chief Executive of the Vintners Federation of Ireland, said that asking business owners for their opinion after making the decision to introduce legislation is an empty gesture by the Department of Health.
“We are calling on all our members serving food to contact Minister Simon Harris to express their dismay over this week’s announcement,” said Mr Cribben. “This is a badly thought-out idea that should not progress any further.”
Adrian Cummins, CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, said: “Restaurants by their very design are for occasions and we as an industry have confidence in our customers knowing a restaurant meal is just that – a treat.”
The consultation questionnaire will be open until 5pm on Friday, 14th February, after which a report will be published.
Submissions can be made here.