If you are eating out at larger restaurants and cafes in England you are going to notice a significant change on the menu as you make your selections. Calorie information is now required to be displayed at businesses with more than 250 employees.

The Government says the new rules are to help people make healthier choices when eating out. Many businesses have already been provided calorie information, but now cafes, restaurants and takeaways are required to show calorie information for non-prepacked food and soft drink items that are prepared for customers.

However, for a number of reasons, some people eating out may find seeing calorie information difficult. To accommodate this, there is provision within the legislation to help those who would rather not see the calories displayed.

Businesses can provide a menu without calorie information at the express request of the customer. As a result, people who may find viewing calorie information more difficult may be able to avoid this information in certain situations when eating out.

With the mandatory introduction of calories on menus, wagamama has said it will offer a ‘calorie-free’ version of their menu available on request, appreciating that everyone’s relationship with food differs.

wagamama CEO Thomas Heier said: “After two years of working with our charity partners Young Minds, disordered eating for young people is something we’re acutely aware of. As calories become a legal necessity for all restaurants, we’ve decided to offer a non-calorie menu for guests suffering with a challenging relationship with food. “

Generally, under the new regulations calorie information will need to be displayed at the point of choice for the customer, such as physical menus, online menus, food delivery platforms and food labels. The COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted the impact that obesity can have on people’s health and health outcomes, and prompted the Government to take on a wider strategy to tackle obesity.

It is estimated that overweight and obesity related conditions across the UK cost the NHS £ 6.1 billion each year. Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of adults in England are overweight or living with obesity – and one in three children leave primary school overweight or obese.

Public Health Minister, Jo Churchill, said: “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. That is why we want to make sure everyone has access to accurate information about the food and drink we order.

“These measures form an important building block in our strategy to support and encourage people in achieving and maintaining a healthier weight.”

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