Show calories in burgers, Reilly tells US food bosses

Claire Murphy

MINISTER for Health Dr James Reilly has written to US fast food outlets asking them to display the number of calories their food contains in Irish restaurants.

There is no legislation which makes food outlets display such information in Ireland.

In the US, companies are obligated under law to provide customers with the amount of calories in their food.

Dr Reilly has appealed to the good nature of US food outlets based here, to make this information available to their Irish customers.

Nutritionists and medical professionals have welcomed the moves on the anti-obesity campaign but believe that the measures could go further.

The Count Me In campaign was launched on Kathryn Thomas's Operation Transformation show by Dr Donal O'Shea, consultant endocrinologist and head of weight management at St. Colmcille's Hospital, Loughlinstown.

It aimed to encourage Irish restaurants chains and take-aways to display the calorie content of the food on their menus.

Presenter of RTE's Health of the Nation, Dr Nina Byrnes said that she's pleased with Dr Reilly's appeal to fast food outlets but said that the campaign could be pushed further.

"I'm thrilled with that. I wish they'd make it law as well, because we can ask what we like but the fast food chains can still say no," she said.

Dr Dan McCartney from the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute praised any restaurant which voluntarily promotes healthy eating.

He added: "You'd hope that between voluntary participation by fast food outlets and legislative regulation and a change in consumers' habits, that it would help."