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Friday 24 November 2017

Health Minister James O’Reilly gives firms six months to put calorie labels on food

Mark O’Regan

FOOD businesses have six months to get in shape and introduce calorie menu labelling on a voluntary basis - or else face the introduction of a compulsory scheme.

Minister for Health James Reilly has backed a call by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland for the introduction by food businesses to clearly show the calorie content of meals and portions they serve.

The authority recommends a ‘transitional period’ so that the scheme be introduced on a voluntary basis at first to allow businesses to develop the necessary technical tools to help the industry adjust to the change.

A new report published yesterday by the Authority shows 96pc of people support the introduction of calorie menus in all food outlets. A further 89pc say the calorie content should be clearly displayed beside the food and drink items on the menu. Some 84pc of consumers say labelling should also apply to alcoholic drinks.

“This is an issue I feel very strongly about and one I’d like to see come in by way of voluntary initiatives on behalf of the industry,” Minister Reilly said yesterday.

“I’ve met with some of the major chains such as McDonalds and Subway and they have already engaged with this process but sadly others have not. What are we afraid of that we don’t want to put the calorie content up. I want to empower people to make the right choice; we’re not about forcing people to eat differently, it’s about allowing them to make an informed decision.”

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