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Calorie labelling and your restaurant: the new rules you need to know for your menu

Calorie labelling and your restaurant: the new rules you need to know for your menu

From 6th April 2022, all cafes, restaurants and takeaways run by companies with more than 250 employees will be required to include calorie labelling and counts on their menus. The new calorie labelling law is part of a wider government strategy to tackle obesity and promote healthy eating. 

With less than three months to go until the new rules come into force, hospitality operators across the UK are evaluating the requirements and preparing to make changes to their menus. 

Whatever stage your business is at in its preparations, this blog breaks down the changes and what they might mean for you.

What are the key calorie labelling rules you need to know?

Calorie information needs to be displayed at ‘the point of choice’

The government wants consumers to be able to see calorie information at the time of choosing their order.

This means that calories must be clearly labelled on physical menus, online menus, food delivery platforms and next to the physical item if ordering from a display stand.  

Calorie information must be displayed in kilocalories (kcal) and it must be ‘easily visible, clearly legible, and not in any way hidden or obscured’. The legislation recommends using the same font or type of lettering, colour, size and background of the description or price of the food item

For most products, displaying calorie information on a menu might be straightforward. But in the case of ‘mealdeal’ options or ‘build your own’ meals, it’s a more complex challenge. Ensure you’re fully compliant with our calorie labelling features.

Menus must include the statement ‘adults need around 2000 kcal a day’

Along with the calorie information in kcal, operators must display this statement ‘prominently at the point where people are choosing what to buy’ – on a menu screen or web page if it’s a digital menu, or on each side of a physical menu. The statement can never be changed. 

In some cases menus need to specify the portion size of an item

Operators don’t need to call out that a single portion serves one as the description of the menu item typically makes it clear. For example, chicken burger, 550kcal.

But if an item serves more than one person, the menu needs to specify the number of people it is intended to serve. If an item is intended for multiple people i.e. a sharing platter or a whole cake, calorie information must be provided for the whole item as well as information on how many people it is intended to serve. For example, 15 chicken wings, 1000 kcal, serves four.

Do the regulations apply to every type of food and drink?

The new rules are focused on food and drink that is sold for ‘immediate consumption’. A rough translation of this is any non-prepacked food or soft drink item that is prepared for customers to consume immediately (either on-site or to takeaway).

Excluded from the legislation are:

  • Prepacked food and drinks
  • Condiments given to a customer separately from their food or drink (salt and pepper, coffee syrups added after purchasing, tomato ketchup, mint sauce, mustard, mayonnaise etc.
  • Certain categories of food sold for consumption off the premises such as:
  • Loose fresh fruit
  • Loaf of bread or baguette

There are also some other exemptions:

  • Items that are on the menu for 30 days or less 
  • Food that is requested for by a customer but isn’t on the menu. For example, if a customer asks for a different type of milk in a coffee that’s not advertised for sale
  • Alcoholic drinks with an abv greater than 1.2%

Are there fines if my business doesn’t comply?

Enforcement Officers are set to make inspections where they will check how businesses have calculated calories and if they are displaying them correctly. Any person who fails to comply with an improvement notice is guilty of an offence and may be fined £2,500 as an alternative to criminal prosecution.

Getting ready for the changes 

While the new calorie labelling legislation brings a fresh challenge for operators, it’s a great opportunity to explore how you can use digital to streamline your operations – from menu nutrition management to seamless digital ordering.

When it comes to displaying nutritional information, not all digital platforms are equal. There are key features that you should consider when looking for the best way to display calories. Is it easy to update nutrition information in one place and then push it out to all of your digital ordering channels, including delivery aggregators? Is the information displayed beautifully, in a way that doesn’t disrupt the overall customer experience?

When we opened our first restaurant back in 2015, transparency around nutrition was becoming increasingly important. We focused on putting nutrition and customisation at the heart of our digital ordering platform and made it quick and easy for operators to add and update their nutritional information.

By building the functionality to offer a clear breakdown of calories, dietary tags and allergens for every menu item, we found a way to simplify our operations and empower customers to make the right meal choice for them. Today, this functionality is used by restaurants like YO!, LEON and Nando’s to take their customer experience to the next level.

Check out our calorie labelling features or if you want to talk about the changes in more detail, get in touch to see how we can help you get ready for the new calorie labelling rules.