The British Hospitality Association has hit back at the FSA’s plans to label calorie content on menus, arguing the scheme could ‘result in huge cost to the industry with little benefit.’
The introduction of the scheme comes just weeks after the FSA decision to implement a voluntary six-tier Scores on the Doors hygiene rating system, which Bob Cotton, chairman of the BHA says could overwhelm already struggling businesses.
“Our greatest fear is that a statutory approach might be adopted if a sufficient number of catering businesses do not take it up,” he said. “If that happened, individual restaurants just would not be able to cope.”
John Dyson, the BHA’s food and technical affairs adviser, expressed his surprise that the FSA would implement such a costly scheme when many restaurants are already struggling through the recession. He added that while the scheme appeared to be based on one currently operating in New York, there was no evidence to suggest it had resulted in consumers adopting a healthier diet.
Instead he suggests the FSA adopt a similar scheme to that in Scotland, where the BHA had worked with the Consumers’ Association, health authorities, local authorities and the Scottish FSA to develop a Healthy Living Award.
“This has been implemented by many businesses in Scotland and provides consumers with the information they need,” he said. “The scheme has been evaluated and shown to be effective in influencing consumer choice.
“On food labelling, we will endeavour to persuade the agency to look at what is already working successfully in the UK, particularly in Scotland, and to refrain from attempting to introduce an untried scheme which may, in the end, result in huge cost to the industry for little benefit.”
The FSA yesterday (15 January) confirmed it would be working with ‘several big players’ in the industry to implement calorie labelling on their menus, although they are yet to announce who the first adopters of the scheme will be.