Foodservice leaders urged to make nutrition pledge

A charity is calling on the out-of-home sector to provide clearer health advice after a survey indicated almost two thirds (61%) of people struggle to find nutritional information on food bought from restaurants, cafes and takeaways.

Diabetes UK wants the 24 biggest out-of-home companies to help fight obesity by pledging to give consumers access to clear, consistent and easily accessible information on the nutritional contents of the food they eat at the point of purchase.

The Diabetes UK Food Upfront Pledge calls on the likes of Costa Coffee, McDonald’s and JD Wetherspoon to introduce calorie labelling on menus, or at point of purchase; to ensure information on carb content is clearly available on menus, in store and online; and to ensure the fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt content of meals is clearly available to customers, using a traffic light system, in store and online.

The charity said that by doing so businesses would help customers make informed and healthy decisions about the food they’re eating to help tackle the UK’s obesity crisis, and stem the growing numbers of people developing Type 2 diabetes.

Of the 2,000 people surveyed, 79% agreed that the industry had a responsibility to make their food and drink healthier, and nine out of ten people said traffic light food labelling would help them make more informed decisions about the food they eat.

Three in four people (76%) said they believe that restaurants and cafes should display calorie information on their menus. The Department for Social Care is currently analysing the results of a consultation on introducing mandatory calorie labelling in the out-of-home sector.

“With three in five people struggling to find information about what’s in the food they’re eating out, the industry has a responsibility to help customers eat as healthily as possible and tackle the UK’s obesity epidemic,” said Helen Dickens, assistant director of campaigns and mobilisation at Diabetes UK. “We’ve written to the biggest outlets in the sector, urging them to take the initiative by adopting our Food Upfront pledge, which would ensure that information about the nutritional contents of food consumers buy in restaurants, cafes and takeaways is easily accessible and understandable.”

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