Date Published: 15 January 2009

First steps in providing nutrition information for consumers eating out

Health Food - illustrating an item from the UK Food Standards Agency.

The Agency today launched the first phase of activity aimed at introducing nutrition information in a range of catering outlets to provide consumers with more consistent information when they are eating out. The first step will be the introduction of calorie labelling.

The Agency is talking to a range of companies that will act as early adopters by voluntarily introducing calorie information on menus and other materials available at the point consumers choose what to eat. Further details of this introduction, which will begin in the summer, will be published in due course.

The initial plans for the introduction of nutrition information were launched at a breakfast meeting in London attended by representatives of more than 50 of the UK’s largest catering businesses. The meeting was also presented with initial feedback from qualitative research exploring consumers’ views on nutrition information when they are eating out.

The research revealed that:

* There are consumers already using nutrition information where it is available in restaurants, pubs and coffee-shops to make healthier choices.
* Generally, consumers are happy to have the information saying that it is their choice to use it or not.
* Consumers were clear that simplicity is key – they want to see clear and easy-to-use information at the point they choose what to eat. They do not want to have to ask for it or for it to only be provided on the company’s website.
* Consumers want consistency in the information offered to them, making it easier to take healthier options.
* As nutrition information already exists in shops and supermarkets, participants felt that having similar information when eating out was an obvious next step.
* There was support from groups for calorie information at the point of decision as the simplicity of it was appealing.

FSA chief executive, Tim Smith, said:

"There is no compelling reason why we shouldn’t see nutritional information when we eat out, as we are used to seeing it in supermarkets. As a family man, I know how important it is to have clear information in order to make decisions about the food we, our children and anyone else eat when we go out. Providing calorie information is supported by our consumer research and intuitively feels right too – this is the first and simplest step and can only be a good thing for all consumers.‘The Agency is keen to work closely with industry to see, as a first step, how calorie information can be provided in a clear, effective and simple manner across a range of catering settings."

The Agency’s work ties in with the Government’s Healthy Food Code of Good Practice, which challenges the food industry to support the public in making healthier choices in an effort to reduce rising levels of obesity and diet related illnesses.


Source: Food Standards Agency (FSA), UK.

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