BTC urges Government to exempt small firms from calorie labelling

The British Takeaway Campaign (BTC), which was co-founded by Just Eat, has written to the Government, calling on them to exempt restaurants and takeaways with fewer than five outlets from its proposals for mandatory calorie labelling.

The proposals, currently out for consultation, risk overwhelming local takeaways, which lack the resources and infrastructure to implement them. The British Takeaway Campaign calculates that implementing mandatory calorie labelling could cost up to £150 per menu item.

The Campaign, which represents restaurant and takeaway owners, food manufacturers, supply-chain organisations and trade associations, is calling for a three-tiered approach to calorie labelling:

> for restaurants and takeaways with fewer than five outlets, calorie labelling should be on a voluntary basis only;
> for restaurants with five to ten outlets, a two-year delay to the adoption of mandatory calorie labelling, once the new regulations come into force;
> calorie labelling to be mandatory from day one for all other takeaways and restaurants.

This would be reinforced by the nationwide roll-out of an online calorie counter to assist takeaways of all sizes to calculate the calories of dishes on their menu, on a voluntary basis. The calculator is currently up and running in Northern Ireland and Scotland, but not in England and Wales.

The push for an online calorie calculator comes as the sector responds to changing consumer appetites with a much greater range of healthy takeaway options. 65% of takeaway restaurants in the UK now offer low fat options while 59% offer low salt options. As that demand is reinforced by government policy, it is creating a virtuous circle, with takeaway owners realising the commercial opportunity of offering healthier food.

Ibrahim Dogus, Chair of the British Takeaway Campaign, said, “The takeaway sector is committed to providing customers healthier choices and playing an active role in tackling obesity. All we are asking is that calorie labelling plans are rolled out in a way that the small business owners who run our local Fish and Chip shops, our Kurdish and Turkish kebab houses and our Indian takeaways can cope with. Otherwise we risk choking the life out of a Great British institution.”

“Most takeaway restaurants are small, independent businesses who face an array of pressures from rising business rates to skills shortages. We want to ensure these restaurants, that are part of the fabric of British culture, continue to thrive whilst playing their part to promote healthy eating.”