Restaurant menus to display calorie counts

17 firms will trial the scheme

Hundreds of food outlets will start displaying calorie information on menus later this month, ministers say.

It comes after surveys showed the public wanted more information about the food they buy. A poll of 2,000 people by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in 2008 found 85% were in favour of catering outlets displaying nutritional data.

A first wave of 17 firms will trial the scheme, aimed at getting people to eat healthily. High street chains including Pizza Hut and Burger King have signed up, along with staff canteens. Outlets taking part will display the information on menus, boards or shelves depending on how people choose the food.

The move is similar to a labelling system introduced in New York last year. The FSA and government are also thought to be in talks with a host of other companies to expand the numbers.

FSA chief executive Tim Smith said: ‘We are pleased that such a diverse range of companies has agreed to work with us. Our aim is to ensure that consumers have better information so they can make informed choices to improve their diet when eating out.’

Public health minister Dawn Primarolo added: ‘I want to see more catering companies join this ground-breaking first group to help their customers make healthier choices.’

Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, said: ‘It’s really important for us to know what’s in the food we’re eating. This is a big step forwards for public health. Congratulations to these catering companies for leading the way.’

• The companies taking part are: Burger King, Compass Group, Co-operative supermarket cafes, ISS Mediclean (which runs canteens in hospitals), KFC, Marks and Spencer Revive Cafes, Merlin Entertainment (which runs outlets for Chessington World of Adventures), Mitchell and Butlers (which provides food for Harvester and Scream pubs), Pizza Hut, Pret a Manger, Sainsbury’s cafes, Sodexo (which runs outlets in military barracks), Subway, Unilever staff canteens, Waitrose cafes, 7 Day Catering (which provides food for colleges), Wimpy.

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