Supermarket cafes to list calorie counts on menus

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has launched new guidance for retailers on upcoming calorie labelling regulations, coming into force from April this year.

The new rules will require large retailers to display calorie and portion information on all menus and food labels for products, including supermarket cafe and deli items.

Supermarkets will also be required to display the number of calories recommended for an adult in a day.

As part of the guidance, ACS has urged retailers to contact their symbol or franchise operator to find out whether they’ll have to make changes in-store and online to comply with the regulations.

The regulations are part of the government’s wider strategy to tackle obesity, which includes the controversial rules on the promotion and location of HFSS products.

“Our aim is to make it as easy as possible for people to make healthier food choices for themselves and their families, both in restaurants and at home,” public health minister Jo Churchill said.

READ MORE: ACS urges government to “not leave rural shops behind”

“That is why we want to make sure everyone has access to accurate information about the food and drink we order.”

ACS chief executive James Lowman added: “It’s essential that retailers understand their responsibilities when it comes to the new calorie labelling requirements.”

However, the government faced backlash for its new calorie labelling rules on social media and from Beat, a charity that supports people with eating disorders.

“Requiring calorie counts on menus risks causing great distress for people suffering from or vulnerable to eating disorders, since the evidence shows that calorie labelling exacerbates eating disorders of all kinds,” said Beat chief executive Andrew Radford.

“Although we recognise the importance of reducing obesity, research shows that anti-obesity campaigns that focus on weight instead of health are counter-productive, while the number of calories consumed is not a reliable indicator of health.

“Public health campaigns need to consider people’s mental health as well as their physical health. They must move away from obesity-shaming to emphasising healthy behavioural changes and instilling confidence into people.”

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