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DOUBTER: Oliver Dunne

DOUBTER: Oliver Dunne

DOUBTER: Oliver Dunne

RESTAURANT owners are cooking up a storm over moves by the government to show the calorie count of each dish on their menus.

Health Minister James Reilly TD yesterday launched the Food Safety Authority of Ireland's new online calorie calculator (www.menucal.ie), to help customers make more informed choices about what they eat.

The introduction of the calculator requires chefs to voluntarily input data for each dish – a system that has already been implemented in the US.

However, the Restaurants Association of Ireland said the MenuCAL Calculator will prove to be an unnecessary burden on restaurants, as it would be virtually impossible to monitor and will take each chef on average five hours per week, 20 hours per month, to complete a 40 item monthly menu.

Michelin-starred restaurant owner Oliver Dunne said legislation forcing restaurants to display calorie counts on their menus will not be practical.

Mr Dunne said chefs who make dishes to order will not be able to standardise the amount of calories in each dish.

PORTION

"If we're in a kitchen and there's a team of chefs and you're making a portion of mashed potato for somebody, every chef that goes to make it doesn't weigh out 10 grams of butter for 200 grams of potatoes and stir it to order, the chefs are just putting it in.

"It'll be so vague from one chef to another," Mr Dunne said.

In addition, the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) warned against any attempt down the line to introduce mandatory labelling of calories on menus.

Others welcomed the move.

"American studies show that when calories are listed, people ate an average of 152 fewer calories at hamburger venues, and 73 fewer calories at sandwich bars," Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone said.

"Overall, calorie intake fell by 6pc per day and if calorie intake was reduced by this much in Ireland, it would have a positive impact on our obesity levels and our type 2 diabetes problems.

"We are facing remarkable problems when it comes to the health of the nation in the years ahead," she said, adding any preventative measure should be welcomed.

HNEWS@HERALD.IE


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