Friday 22 November 2019

Chefs plan to protest against calorie count on menus

Mr Cummins said cafés and restaurants were willing to face fines and penalties to show their opposition to the plans.
Mr Cummins said cafés and restaurants were willing to face fines and penalties to show their opposition to the plans.

Caroline Crawford

Chefs around the country are planning to “actively oppose” the planned calorie count on menus, according to the Restaurant Association of Ireland.

Adrian Cummins, chief executive of the RAI, said members are planning to fight the proposals if they are implemented and are willing to face fines and penalties.

“We are planning a major lobby campaign to educate politicians We want to open their eyes to what this will mean. This is an attempt at an industry wide nanny state regime,” he said.

“There has been huge turnouts at our meetings. I have never seen this level of anger. The chefs are talking about a white flu, mass opposition to the plans,” he added.

Mr Cummins said cafés and restaurants were willing to face fines and penalties to show their opposition to the plans.

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

He said such premises felt they were being “targeted” by the proposals thought up by the Special Action Group for Obesity.

“Everybody can see that schools and hospitals all still have fizzy drink and chocolate bar machines. Why are they targeting small cafés and restaurants and this is not being looked at at all,” he queried.

The RAI is currently undertaking a series of countrywide meetings to discuss the plans and any possible action with members.

“Obviously the legislation hasn’t been published yet for it. We have been meeting with our members to put in place a campaign to fight the proposals if the Department of Health move forward with this.

“They are not going to ignore it, they are going to oppose it,” said Mr Cummins.

He said the main concerns were the significant costs involved, estimating that the cost of a premises could reach €5,000 to €6,000.

Mr Cummins  added that the proposals could not be policed.

“They are proposing daily specials would be exempt and it would only apply to the standard menu but who will check that the standard meals have the same calorie count every day. How will they police it?” he said.

The RAI head also warned the process of introducing allegan information to menus, which was introduced last December, is not working.

“There is huge confusion, we are seeing different interpretations right across the country. Environmental Health Officers, are all differing on it. One HEO will say one thing and another will say something different so no chefs know where they stand. There’s a lot of anger about it,” he said.

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