independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Take-outs resisting Reilly's calorie counting

Small restaurants are digging their heels in and saying they won't be rolling out the calorie counts on menus demanded by Health Minister James Reilly.

The Restaurants Association of Ireland said the move would cost businesses €5,000 each, adding up to €110m at a time when they were struggling to stay open.

They have held seven regional meetings with hundreds of members nationwide and there was universal opposition to the measure which is supposed to be in place by year's end.

"It's not going to happen because it's far-fetched and unreasonable at a time of austerity," said chief executive Adrian Cummins.

Even though Dr Reilly was "gung-ho" about the move and has threatened legislation if restaurants don't voluntarily post their calorie counts, it would be impossible to police, Mr Cummins added.

Unreasonable

While some fast food chains like Supermac's and Burger King were moving ahead with labelling, their scale and uniformity of menu made it easy. But small outlets don't have the training or money for it.

The US and Australia had introduced much more reasonable measures only requiring chains with more than 20 branches to state calorie contents, Mr Cummins said.

Indian chain the Bombay Pantry said calorie counts appeared impossibly difficult and expensive as there was too much variation in freshly cooked food.

The Food Safety Authority is working on an online calorie counter that helps restaurants to analyse counts by inputting the ingredients used.

Irish Independent

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