Sunday 24 September 2017

Derry Clarke: Calorie counts on menus is "past ridiculous"

Chef Derry Clarke pictured in his restaurant L'ecrivan
Chef Derry Clarke pictured in his restaurant L'ecrivan
Aideen Sheehan

Aideen Sheehan

The Government's plan to force restaurants to put calorie counts on menus has been met with differing reactions.

While health experts are "thrilled" at the move, people in the food industry believe that it is "unworkable".

The Government wants to see restaurants, takeaways and food service outlets post calorie details of all meals beside the price, with new laws expected to come into force in 2016.

Consultant endocrinologist at Loughlinstown hospital in Dublin, Professor Donal O'Shea, said that it was an "incredibly positive step forward" in tackling the obesity problem.

Read more: Top chef Derry Clarke on children debate: 'It's dangerous. Kids just go riot. And there are hot plates'

"Evidence has shown that making people aware of calorie content can help them to make more informed, healthier decisions about the foods they eat," he said.

However, Restaurants Association chief executive Adrian Cummins said that his chefs and restaurateurs were furious about the move.

"This will destroy food tourism and creativity, we'll be back to meals of peas, carrots, mashed potato and a slice of beef because this will hamper creativity so much," he said.

The Irish Hotels Federation opposed mandatory labelling as unworkable for hotels and guest houses given daily menu changes.

Award-winning chef Oliver Dunne, of Bon Appetit, said it was nonsense, as chefs added ingredients as they cooked so figures couldn't be accurate.

Michelin-starred chef Derry Clarke agreed and said he was 100pc against the move which was "past ridiculous".

"If you want people to lose weight then tax sofas, tax TVs and laptops. It's not all about calories, it's about moving.

"I've lost two-and-a-half stone eating the exact same calorie intake because I got up and got moving on a push-bike and going to the gym."

But Health Minister Leo Varadkar said he was introducing the initiative as the latest figures show two in every three adults and one in four children are overweight or obese.

"Giving calorie details on menus is a very simple but effective way of encouraging people to choose a healthier option," he said.

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