Not the time for calorie reduction targets, argues UKH

Not the time for calorie reduction targets, argues UKH

UKHospitality has likened the government’s recent attack on restaurant and takeaway calorie numbers as “throwing petrol on the fire”.

Responding to new calorie and salt reduction targets for eating out and takeaway businesses, announced by Public Health England, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has reminded government that never have the burdens threatening the existence of hospitality businesses been more acute.

The government issued a statement yesterday (7 September), taking aim at hospitality by saying that ‘calories can be particularly high in takeaway and restaurant food’ and ‘a pizza for one sold at a restaurant or takeaway can have as many as 2,320 calories, compared to 1,368 calories when purchased from shops or supermarkets’.

“The hospitality sector has been supportive and proactive in helping to provide healthier choices and nutritional information for customers,” says Nicholls. “We continue to support the objectives and will never absent ourselves from such well-intentioned pursuits, but the timing of these announcements, with the country still in the grips of a pandemic and hospitality businesses struggling to stay afloat, rather sticks in the craw.

“This is not the time to throw petrol on the fire.”

The government has recommended that the following calorie reductions be made voluntarily:

  • 20% calorie reduction for most meal categories in the eating out-of-home, takeaway and delivery sector, alongside a maximum calorie guideline for all categories
  • For children’s meal bundles, a 10% calorie reduction ambition has been set to reflect progress already made
  • 10% calorie reduction ambition for retailers making ready meals, chips and garlic bread, alongside a maximum calorie guideline for all categories
  • For crisps and savoury snacks, a 5% ambition
  • Combined guidelines for both sectors have been set for sandwiches (5% ambition) and pizza and pastry products (20% ambition)