Friday, January 16, 2009

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has taken its first steps towards introducing a consistent format for providing nutrition information on menus in pubs and other eateries.

Pubs urged to include calorie and nutrition info on menus

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The FSA is talking to a range of companies who will act as "early adopters" to introduce calorie labelling on its menus in the summer.

The move follows a survey, which revealed that more than 80% of respondents would find nutrition information useful at the point of order. It is not yet known who the "early adopters" are.

The FSA’s initial plans for nutrition information were launched at a breakfast meeting in London yesterday with over 50 of the UK’s largest catering businesses, including pub groups, which already display nutrition information on their websites such as Mitchells & Butlers and JD Wetherspoon.

Focus group research has shown that consumers are already using nutrition information where it is available in pubs and other catering outlets; that they were keen that it is kept simple; and that the provision of calorie information at the point of decision is appealing.

The FSA hopes a voluntary calorie labelling system on menus will assist consumers in choosing healthier dishes at the point of order and prompt chefs to adapt dishes to make them more nutritional.

FSA chief executive Tim Smith said the response from catering businesses had been positive: “We’re used to seeing nutrition information when we’re shopping and there is no compelling reason why we shouldn’t have more consistent information about nutrition when we eat out.

When I read stuff like this I sometimes feel like ending it all now. FSA? Pah! Treat people as if they are morons, they do not disappoint and respond appropriately... What on earth is happening in the mind of these people who have breakfast meetings all wearing suits and spouting utter hot air about ridiculous stuff that simply has NO bearing on real life values whatsoever? 'We need nutritional information to help us decide what to eat in a restaurant'? 'Excuse me but it doesn't say on the menu if this is low fat chicken and chips or an unhealthy high oil content dressing Nicoise salad. How on earth do you expect us to make a choice without lots of fundamentally inessential information cluttering up your menu? How can we enjoy a meal if we don't know how many calories are on our plate. I work it all out at home, when I come to a restaurant I expect you to do it all for me?' 'I know - I'll have the Beef Wellington and pay you to eat it for me. There that's not fattening is it' GAH! Have you ever heard such complete poppycrock? Concentrate on educating a population in what has really been lost and forgotten - how to eat well at home. Jamie Oliver is right on the button there with common sense and a good quality non patronising approach that people can take notice of.

Can FSA not see where this will go? It will lead to restaurants and food places being accused of misrepresentation, lying and mis-selling food.

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