A clutch of operators that took part in a Food Standards Agency (FSA) trial of labelling menus with calorie information have decided not to continue with the scheme.
However, rather than marking a complete abandoning of the project it is thought many operators are merely taking stock of the consultation following changes to the FSA’s remit, which will see control of nutritional labelling handed to the Department of Health.
The trial, which was launched last summer, saw 18 of the UK's largest restaurants, sandwich chains and workplace caterers printing calorie counts next to products on the shelves, on menus or next to tills.
Reports yesterday suggested that KFC and Burger King had failed to commit to extending the trial and that Pizza Hut and Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) had abandoned theirs.
The FSA said that only five firms had agreed to give a 'forward, long-term commitment' to display calories in outlets: Pret A Manger, Wimpy, Co-operative cafés, the Camden Food Company and the Real Greek.
However, Yum! Brands refuted claims it had 'abandoned' the trial.
A spokesman for the group told BigHospitality's sister publication M&C Report: “KFC is trialling in three restaurants and this hasn’t changed since the launch of the trial.
“Pizza Hut isn’t currently listing calories on menus at any restaurants, but it hasn’t 'abandoned' the scheme, as the Independent article suggested – it’s working out how it can provide the information in a way that is more helpful to customers, and is still in discussions with the FSA - and whoever takes over responsibility for this in the coming months - about how else it can do this in the future.”
Nutritionally analysed dishes
Compass Group has also insisted that it is still fully committed to menu labelling.
A spokeswoman for the catering giant said that it had introduced calorie labelling on its Core Concepts range, which is available at more than 1,300 workplaces.
She added: "We have created a database of recipes that have been nutritionally analysed, and all new recipes in our Core Concepts range will be analysed so we can provide calorie and GDA labelling for each of them.
"We are also revisiting previous recipes and nutritionally analysing them as well. Hundreds of recipes now carry calorie labelling and this is growing continuously."
The FSA said: "We are currently reviewing the numerous responses we have had to our consultation on a calorie labelling scheme, and the trial undertaken last summer, which was independently evaluated and is just one element we are using to inform the development of our recommendations.
"We received responses from a broad range of external organisations, including many from the hospitality industry, which have generally been very positive."
Martyn Leek is news editor of BigHospitality's sister publication, M&C Report.