|Minister Seeks 'Caloried' Menus|
|Written by Frank Corr|
|Friday, 13 April 2012 07:53|
Health Minister James Reilly wants restaurants to display the calorie content of the foods they sell. But the plan has been given a mixed reaction by the industry.
The Minister's plan follows the decision by US president Barack Obama to sign calorie posting into federal law, Dr Reilly wants restaurants and coffee shops to display the calorie content per portion beside the price on the menu board and in the same colour and font. The initiative, designed to tackle the spread of obesity, is aimed at encouraging consumers to opt for lower-calorie choices.
Most of the large fast-food chains that responded to a letter sent by the Minister last year welcomed his proposals, according to the submissions obtained by The Irish Times under freedom of information legislation. However, some said they could not afford to introduce it, while others sought a meeting with the Minister to discuss particular concerns.
The Department of Health said Dr Reilly would decide on the next steps to take when he received the results of a consultation on the issue being carried out by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.
The Restaurants Association of Ireland, which has already criticised the Minister’s proposals, has asked for a meeting with him over the “numerous issues” raised by its members. Fine dining restaurants in particular have complained of the cost of counting the calories of meal choices that change every day.
Meanwhile the George Boutique Hotel in Limerick claimed to be the first hotel in the Republic to display the number of calories on its main dinner menus.
“You have eight starters, 14 main courses, and eight desserts to choose from,” said hotel manager Altaf Khan. “They are all caloried. There is a lot of work and training and money put into this. We were lucky to have those resources at hand.
Kayleigh Yeoman (19), a participant in this year’s RTÉ Operation Transformation weight-loss show, was on hand to support the initiative. “Every food base/establishment needs to do something like this because the customer deserves to know what they are eating.
Minister of State and local TD Jan O’Sullivan, who launched yesterday’s caloried menu, said the initiative was “a good idea”.