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.

6. How and where we expect information to be displayed, including contextual information

6.1 In order for consumers to make use of calorie information, we would suggest it needs to be clearly visible at the point they are making their choice of food or drink. This means that the information may need to be in multiple places within an outlet, depending on the type of food and drink offered. For example, in a buffet restaurant this would mean that calorie information would be next to where consumers self-serve each food item, or in a fast food restaurant the calorie information would be available on an automated ordering screen.

6.2 We know where calorie information is currently provided on a voluntary basis there is an inconsistency in how and where it is displayed. Research has shown, the number of chain outlets providing calorie information was very variable, with a high proportion not providing information for all items, or prominently. In addition, very few provided reference intake information (see section 6.8). Therefore, the policy aims to introduce a consistent approach to the display of calorie information so that consumers recognise this, and to have the greatest impact on health outcomes.

6.3 There has been a big increase in use of restaurant apps and third party apps to order home delivered food, particularly since the pandemic, with an increase of 103% (for use of restaurant apps) and 69% (for use of third party apps) respectively in 2020 compared to 2019. Therefore, online ordering platforms are included within the scope of this consultation. We envisage it would be the responsibility of the business selling the food to supply this information to be displayed on the online platform used by the consumer to make their choice of food, and to ensure that it is displayed appropriately[8].

6.4 We propose that the calorie value for each menu item is displayed clearly and prominently, in the same size and font as the price, and ideally to the right hand side of the price. Where the menu information is displayed in more than one location, for example, a pre-order terminal or drive through menu board, it is proposed that the calorie information would be required to be displayed at each location to ensure that this is at every place a choice could be made.

6.5 Currently, businesses may voluntarily provide calorie information. If they do, that information must be provided in accordance with the Food Information to Consumers Regulation; they need to display both calories (kcal) and kilojoules (kJ). Kilojoule content can be calculated by multiplying the kcal value by 4.2.

6.6 We are proposing that only calorie (kcal) information is provided under the policy. This is the most commonly used measurement of energy in Scotland. In the responses to the consultation on mandatory calorie labelling in England, a significant majority responded that provision of kilojoule information alongside calorie information was not helpful. The approach of only including the kcal information has the added benefit of reducing the amount of numerical information presented on menus and other display information.

6.7 Consumer research in Scotland shows that only a quarter of adults know the correct reference intake values for adults, with a quarter of adults saying they don't know this, and a third underestimating it.

6.8 In order to help consumers understand the choice they are making in the context of their daily energy needs, a statement setting out the reference intakes for energy should be clearly displayed on menus and on menu boards. Reference intakes (RIs) are benchmarks for the amount of energy that can be consumed on a daily basis in order to maintain a healthy diet. They are based on an average-sized man or woman, doing an average amount of physical activity. The reference intake for women is already used on nutrition labelling which state "adults need around 2,000kcal a day". Evidence shows that including reference intake statements for calories on menus may increase how effective calorie labelling is. Using this approach would keep the reference statement displayed consistent with that already used on front of pack labelling.

Question 9 – What are your views on the proposed requirements shown below for display of calorie information required at each point of choice?

  • All points of choice
  • In same font and size as the price
  • State kcal info only and not also kJ
  • Include reference statement of "adults need around 2,000 calories a day"


6.9 We understand there may be some people who may find calorie information upsetting, for example, people with disordered eating, eating disorders, distress around eating or people with a higher weight. We would like to hear what mitigations could be put in place to reduce any potential difficulty the presence of calorie information in the OOH sector may cause. For example, in England, the regulations permit businesses to provide a menu without calories on request, but they are not required to provide this so it is at the discretion of each business if they choose to have this available.

Question 10 - Should businesses be required or have the option to have menus without calorie information available on request of the consumer?

It should be a requirement for businesses

It should be an option for businesses

Don't know


Question 11 – If businesses are required to have menus without calorie information available on request of the consumer, what practical implications would this have for businesses?


Question 12 – What other mitigating measures could be adopted for consumers who may find calorie information upsetting?




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