From 6th April 2022 new regulations come in to force which require food sellers to display the energy content of the food they sell. The move is part of the Government’s ongoing drive to tackle obesity, particularly childhood obesity, by making it easier for customers to make healthier food choices. Many businesses will want to start preparing for the change now, including training their staff to understand this new legal requirement, so here’s our summary of how the regulation will apply.
Who does the Regulation apply to?
If you are a business with 250 or more employees selling non-prepacked food or drink for immediate consumption, you will probably be subject to the regulations. This means supermarkets, cafes, restaurants, home delivery services, hotels, ferries and contract caterers may well be in scope. There are some specific rules around mass catering in-house and for smaller businesses which mean the regulations don’t apply but we recommend you check the details on the link at the bottom of this article.
What foods does the Regulation apply to?
Any food which is offered for immediate consumption, either on or away from your premises, is in scope of the Regulations. Again, there are some specific exemptions for some foods sold for consumption off the premises: for example, fresh fruit, a loaf of bread or a rotisserie chicken do not require calorie labelling. We are interested to note that food items which appear on your menu for less than 30 days per year (for example, seasonal specials) also do not require labelling. Alcoholic drinks greater than 1.2% ABV don’t need labelling either.
What information do I have to display – and where?
The regulation requires that three key pieces of information must be shown:
This information must be made available at the ‘point of choice’ for customers. For example, this could be on menus, on daily special boards, on the counter, or on a website. We’d suggest that the ‘point of choice’ could vary so it may be sensible for businesses to display this information in more than one place.
What else do the Regulations cover?
The regulations give guidance on how to calculate the calorie content of food (and states an acceptable ‘margin of error’ of plus or minus 20% to recognise inaccuracies in measurement methods). They also make clear that penalties for infringement could range from a Fixed Monetary Penalty of £2,500 to criminal prosecution.
It seems clear that this legislation is aimed squarely at the large fast-food chains first and foremost. Our independent cafes and restaurants currently fall outside of scope, which is certainly one less ‘hoop’ to jump through following what has already been a very tough couple of years. It will be interesting to see whether the ‘powers that be’ feel this regulation does have a positive impact on the obesity agenda and whether we will see smaller businesses coming into scope at some point in the future.
Rod Carver - Level 3 Food Safety Attendee
Academy Training Manager