Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told food companies yesterday that ‘doing nothing was not an option’ and that they should cut sugar and reduce the size of dessert portions, The Times has reported.
Consumers will be able to check companies’ efforts on a website, although exactly how they will be compared has not been decided.
It is the latest step in the Government’s bid to tackle obesity after it called on food and drink firms to cut sugar in key products by 20 per cent by 2020.
In a private meeting Hunt reportedly told 100 food companies to ‘step up’ and take action.
He said: “Going out is no longer a treat. It’s a regular habit for many families and is contributing significantly to the extra calories and sugar that we all consume on a daily basis.
“We can’t ignore the changing habits of consumers. This means we expect the whole out-of-home sector – coffee shops, pubs and family restaurants, quick service restaurants, takeaways, cafes, contract caterers and mass catering suppliers – to step up and deliver on sugar reduction.”
'Database of puddings'
But Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), said many hospitality businesses already showed calorie content on menus to encourage healthy eating.
She said: “Additional legislation and levels of bureaucracy at such a politically and economically unstable time is exactly what UK hospitality businesses do not need. There is also the very real risk that a Government database of restaurant pudding sizes, which attempts to name and shame businesses, will have the opposite of the intended effect.
“If Mr Hunt is concerned about calories in puddings, than a good course of action might be to scrutinise supermarket food, from where the bulk of the UK’s food is purchased.”
Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, said that new measures were needed to improve nutrition across the board.