In 2012 the team at RTE’s Operation Transformation launched a campaign to make calorie information mandatory on menus in Ireland. Under the pressure of the campaign the FSAI issued several documents and the Minister for Health toyed with the idea of implementing legislation. Two years later calorie posting still isn’t required by law in Ireland.
The concept has not been scrapped altogether and on 9th April the FSAI launched MenuCal, described as “an online calorie calculator available to Ireland’s 22,000 food service businesses free-of-charge to enable them to calculate the calorie values in the food they sell and serve to customers.” In April of this year the Minister said he was still planning on introducing legislation before the end of 2014.
There is a surge of opinion against the legislation. Small businesses are worried about costs, others are worried about protecting the dining experience and many are saying this isn’t the answer we need to tackle the obesity epidemic. Despite their concerns a recent Journal.ie poll showed that consumers don’t agree. 64% of the respondents were in favour of having calorie information relating to calories on menus. Small businesses might not welcome the extra bureaucracy but consumers want to be given this information.
In addition, according to Irishhealth.com research in America found that when calories were signalled on menus, people ate:
• 152 fewer calories at hamburger venues with each purchase
• 73 less calories at sandwich bars with each purchase
• 6% fewer calories overall each day.
Ireland has shown in the past it isn’t afraid to lead the way with initiatives like this one. In 2003 we were the first country in the world to bring in a complete smoking ban in workplaces. Opposition to that plan was fierce when it was first announced, but it has been hugely successful and most of the world has followed suit. It looks like Canada is going to lead the way on calorie posting, with Ontario first to introduce legislation. As yet it doesn’t look likely to be a requirement by law here, but many Irish restaurants are choosing to post calories on their menus anyway. We’d love to compile a full list. If you know another restaurant that’s listing calories on its menu let us know.
- The Bagel Bar
- Counter Burger?
- M&S Café
- Yo Sushi