Thursday 21 November 2019

Calorie counting in restaurants could cost up to €10k per year

The Bay Restaurant; calorie specific menu introduction. Louise Eglington, manager of restaurant.
The Bay Restaurant; calorie specific menu introduction. Louise Eglington, manager of restaurant.
Derry Clarke
Robin Schiller

Robin Schiller

The manager of a Dublin restaurant that spends €10,000 a year on calorie counts on the menu says she does not believe it should be compulsory.

Louise Eglington, of Clontarf's Bay restaurant, has said that while the practice has worked "extremely well for them", implementing the proposals could be tough for smaller businesses due to the cost involved.

She says the costs for her restaurant include paying for extra work for chefs and changing menus, expenditure that may be beyond small cafes and other businesses.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar has plans to implement legislation requiring mandatory calorie counts on menus at restaurants, take-aways and all food service outlets by next year in a bid to battle the nation's growing waistlines.

The Restaurants Association previously branded the plans as "nanny state proposals" and warned about the costs to its members.

"We were one of the first restaurants to include a calorie count on our menus, and for us it has worked extremely well and been hugely successful," Ms Eglington said.

However, she feels that a national roll-out of the plan may not be beneficial to all businesses.

"It's a hugely time constraining and expensive process to maintain. It costs us around €10k annually to have calorie counts on our menus.

"Then there is also the amount of work that goes into it. We work together with our chefs to make it possible, with chef specials and lunch specials having to be changed on a weekly basis."

Chefs around the country reacted angrily to the proposal and are expected to hold a 'white flu' demonstration to protest against the planned legislation.

Michelin-star rated chef Derry Clarke (inset) is one of those who hit out at the plans, warning diners to avoid his award-winning restaurant if they want the information. He maintained that his restaurant would not fair badly when it comes to calorie levels.

Mr Clarke said he disagreed completely with the plans, insisting that the problem of obesity was down to society becoming "too lazy".

"If they are serious about tackling obesity in Ireland then build gyms in schools, provide more bike stations and tax laptops and TVs and couches. We are all too lazy and the Government's answer is to push it on to restaurants," he said.


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