Saturday 18 November 2017

Hefty 93pc of restaurants ignore calorie count plan

Health Minister Leo Varadkar
Health Minister Leo Varadkar
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Mandatory posting of calories on menus will be stepped up in the wake of a confidential survey showing just 7pc of restaurants are doing it voluntarily.

Ignorance is still bliss for the majority of people who dine out - with new figures showing just one in 14 food outlets is telling customers how many calories are in its dishes.

The low level of compliance with the voluntary scheme emerged in a confidential survey commissioned by the Department of Health, which has been seen by the Irish Independent.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar is now stepping up plans to make the scheme mandatory.

Mr Varadkar said: "We know that over 95pc of consumers in Ireland want the calorie count of meals displayed on menus.

"It's a proven way of changing consumer behaviour, and independent evidence from the USA shows that calorie posting is very effective. So the results of this survey are very surprising."

The Restaurants Association of Ireland has already described calorie posting as unworkable and questioned how it could be properly monitored.

But obesity expert Prof Donal O'Shea has applauded the plan.

The figures are part of a wider evaluation carried out for the department by a team led by public health expert Prof Ivan Perry of UCC.

Around a quarter of the total calorie intake of adults under the age of 65 is consumed outside the home.

Irish Independent

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