Out of home sector - mandatory calorie labelling: consultation

The public is being invited to have their say on plans to add the number of calories to menus in the out of home food sector including cafes, restaurants and takeaways.

5. Types of food and drink and possible exemptions

5.1 All food and non-alcoholic drinks that can be consumed immediately upon purchase without any further preparation is within the potential scope of the policy. We envisage it would apply to standard offerings only. This means it would not apply to items that are made at specific request of the consumer such as a chicken burger without mayonnaise.

5.2 Calorie information would be required to be provided for each menu item on a per portion as served basis. Where an item is a sharing dish, or contains multiple portions, the calorie information per portion would be displayed, along with the total number of portions within the dish e.g. a sharing nachos contains two portions.

5.3 Where foods are served as part of a self-service buffet or made to order sandwich bar, calorie information would be displayed for an appropriate serving of each item e.g. a scoop of mashed potatoes or a slice of cold meat.

5.4 We know that alcoholic drinks can be a significant source of calories. For those who drink alcohol, it has been estimated that this provides nearly 7% and 8% of women's and men's calorie intakes respectively. In the UK, each year around 3.4 million adults consume an additional day's worth of calories each week from alcohol: the equivalent of an additional two months of food every year. This will be referenced in a forthcoming consultation on Alcohol labelling: health information for consumers, which is likely to include mandatory alcohol calorie labelling. As mandatory calorie labelling for alcohol is subject to separate consultation, alcoholic drinks do not fall within the scope of this consultation.

5.5 Foods that are prepacked off premises such as confectionery, crisps or bottled soft drinks would be exempt from these new proposals. This is because pre-packed foods are already required to provide nutrition information (including calories per 100g/ml) through the Food Information to Consumers Regulation.

5.6 Foods that are prepacked on premises and offered or sold to consumers are also known as Pre-packed For Direct Sale (PPDS) (see glossary for definition), for example a freshly-made, filled baguette, packaged and made available for sale in a chiller cabinet. PPDS foods would be within scope of the policy if meeting the criteria set out in 5.1. This is because people could be choosing these types of foods for immediate consumption.

Question 5 – The intention is that PPDS foods would fall within the scope of the policy. Do you agree with that proposal?

Yes/No/Don't Know

Please explain your answer

5.7 We understand that for businesses who very regularly change their menu options, or provide specials for a short period, calorie labelling these menu items may be more difficult. Similar regulations adopted by the UK Government for England allow menu options that are available for 30 days or less (either in total or consecutively) in a calendar year to be exempt from calorie labelling. We would consider a similar provision for any Scottish legislation. This would ensure that businesses can use seasonal ingredients, reduce food waste and continue to be creative with their dishes.

5.8 We envisage that promotional menus and marketing materials that can be used to make a specific choice of purchase would be required to display calorie information. This would include, for example, takeaway menus with phone numbers that are received through the post or online.

5.9 Calorie information would not be required to be displayed on advertising and promotional materials, for example television adverts, billboards, and promotional posters because these are not where consumers make their choice of specific food or drink.

5.10 In summary, we envisage the following food and drink would be exempt from the scope of this policy:

  • Non-standard menu items prepared at the specific request of the consumer
  • Alcoholic drinks (alcoholic content greater than 1.2% ABV) (this is subject to a separate consultation)
  • Menus items for sale 30 days or less (either consecutively or in a 12 month period)
  • Condiments added by the consumer after food preparation is complete.

Question 6 - Should the foods and drinks listed above be exempt from calorie labelling? (please state your view for each of the above)

Item Exempt? Yes/ No Comment
Non-standard menu items prepared on request
Alcoholic drinks
Menu items for sale 30 days or less
Condiments added by consumer

5.11 Outlets that provide children's menus usually provide these for people aged 12 or under. We propose that calories are not displayed on menus specifically marketed to children. However, we do want to seek views on whether businesses should be required to calculate the calorie content of children's menus, and whether this should be made available to parents and carers. This would enable parents and carers to understand more about the options available for their child/ren, and also ensure businesses take responsibility for ensuring their options and portion sizes are suitable.

5.12 We are working with FSS, PHS and industry to develop a code of practice for children's menus with the aim of improving the options available for children when eating OOH.

Question 7 - Should menus marketed specifically at children be exempt from calorie labelling?



Don't know


Question 8 - Should businesses[7] be required to provide calorie information about options on children's menus to parents and carers on request?



Don't know




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