No 10 has suggested pubs will not be required to introduce calorie labels on pints, with the new policy focusing only on food labelling for large hospitality businesses.
The government said on Tuesday new legislation will be introduced in the coming year to require the “out-of home sector” – restaurants, cafes and takeaways – to display calorie contents on their menus in a drive to combat obesity.
The measure, which will only apply to companies with 250 or more employers, will come alongside restrictions on the promotions of high fat, salt and sugar food and drinks in retailers from April 2022, the government added.
This is expected to include curtailing ‘buy one, get one free deals’ and bang shops from presenting unhealthy items in prominent locations such as checkouts and store entrances.
The pledge – forming part of the Queen’s Speech, which set outs the government’s agenda for the coming year – was included in measures to “support the health and wellbeing of the nation” after Covid-19 highlighted the “immense costs of ill-health”.
Downing Street later said the plans for calories labelling will focus on food and not on drinks, relieving pubs from the need to label the calories contained in pints.
“It will be focusing on food labelling,” the prime minister’s spokesman told reporters. “In response to the consultation we are introducing legislation to require large out-of-home settings – which are those with 250 or more employees – to calorie-label the food they sell.”
Quizzed on why drinks were not included in the proposed legislation, the spokesperson added: “We’ve listened to feedback from the consultation and we think this is the right approach to take this forward now, and that’s why we will set out more detail in a consultation response which is coming out later”.
No 10 launched a consultation into the issue of calorie labelling for large businesses in 2018 and carried out further work in the summer of 2020 “on how compliance should be investigated”.
Included in the government’s plans to tackle obesity outlined at the Queen’s Speech, a document provided by No 10 said the Health and Care Bill will also include measures “to ban junk food adverts pre-9pm watershed on TV and for a total ban online”.
The plans to curtail junk food adverts were unveiled last year, leading to criticism from the Food and Drink Federation, which urged the prime minister to reconsider the proposals for a full ban online.