The government has introduced legislation to implement mandatory calorie labelling among large food businesses (businesses with 250 or more employees) in the out of home sector.
The out of home sector is generally considered to be any outlet where food or drink is prepared in a way that means it is ready for immediate consumption, on or off the premises.
The most common types of out of home food businesses include restaurants, cafes and takeaways.
In addition to helping consumers to make healthier decisions, calorie labelling also aims to encourage businesses to reformulate the food and drink they offer and provide lower calorie options for their customers.
When does it come into effect?
The Regulations come into force from 6 April 2022.
Business in Scope
Except for certain exempt businesses outlined in this section, the requirement to calorie label extends to any business with 250 or more employees (‘a qualifying business’) which offers for sale non-prepacked food or drink suitable for immediate consumption by the person who buys it (see section ‘Food in scope’ below).
For example, the types of businesses covered by the requirement include (but may not be limited to):
- Restaurants, fast food outlets, cafes, pubs and supermarkets
- Home delivery services and third-party apps selling food that is in scope
- Cafes and takeaways within larger shops and venues, such as supermarkets, department stores, and entertainment venues such as cinemas
- Specialist food stores, delicatessens, sweet shops and bakeries
- Contract catering – for example, for events and canteens (see mass catering subsection below)
- Domestic transport businesses including planes, trains, ferries and other forms of water transport within the UK
Franchisees carrying on trading as a business under a franchise agreement, where the sum of employees operating under the franchise are 250 or more, are considered qualifying businesses for the purposes of the Regulations and therefore required to calorie label. It is the responsibility of the business selling the food (the franchisee) to ensure that calorie information is displayed in accordance with the Regulations.
Where franchising arrangements do not mandate a common food offer across the franchise network, or only cover the provision of alcoholic drinks (such as some pub arrangements), a franchisee’s business is not considered part of the franchisor’s for the purpose of determining whether it is a qualifying business.
Food Sold Online
The requirement extends to food that is sold on a website or mobile application, including third party delivery apps. Where food in scope of the Regulations is sold on a website or mobile application, the business responsible for that website or mobile application (the ‘remote provider’), irrespective of the size of their business, is required to display the calorie information of food offered for sale by any qualifying business.
Calorie labelling is not required in certain establishments when food is provided ‘in-house’. However, where the food at that establishment is provided by another organisation with 250 or more employees (such as a contract caterer), calorie
information must be displayed.
This rule applies to the following establishments:
- an educational institution for those over 18 years old
- a military establishment
- criminal justice accommodation
- a hospital or other medical institution
- a care home or other institution providing social care
- a canteen at a workplace providing food to employees
Food In Scope
Food in scope of the Regulations and therefore requiring calorie labelling is food which is:
- offered for sale in a form which is suitable for immediate consumption
- not prepacked food
- not exempt food
What Food Is Exempt?
Certain categories of food sold for consumption off the premises
Exempt food in these categories includes:
- fresh fruit or vegetables, including potatoes, provided that they are not added to other food, or sold as an ingredient in food consisting of more than one ingredient
- unprocessed products consisting of a single ingredient which do not come fish, meats or cheese, provided that the fish, meat or cheese is not added to other food, or sold as an ingredient in food consisting of more than one loaf of bread or baguette
Food for particular audiences
Exempt food for particular audiences includes:
- “food that is provided by a charity, in the course of its charitable activities, free, or for a price which is less than the cost of providing that food; or offered for sale by or on behalf of a charity, at a single event, to raise funds for its charitable activities”
- food which is provided at an educational institution for pupils below the age of 18 years old”
- “food provided (not for payment) to patients at a hospital or other medical establishment, or to residents of a care home or other social care institution”
- “food served by the armed forces to a member of the armed forces outside a military canteen”
- “food that is served on international transport (on an aircraft, a train or a ferry) to or from a country that is not part of the United Kingdom”
Other specific exemptions
- food which is on the menu temporarily, that is for less than 30 consecutive days and no more than a total of 30 days in any year
- alcoholic drinks over 1.2% ABV (alcohol by volume)
- condiments which are provided to be added by the consumer to their food (this exemption does not include condiments which are part of the food served)
Displaying Calorie Information
Businesses selling food in scope of the Regulations must:
- display the energy content of the food in kilocalories (kcal)
- reference the size of the portion to which the calorie information relates
- display the statement that ‘adults need around 2000 kcal a day’ (for the purposes of this guidance, this statement will be referred to as the ‘statement of daily calorie needs’)
Displaying calorie content
Energy content of food and drink must be calculated in kilocalories (kcal) and be displayed:
- where food is chosen from a menu: on the menu, next to the description or the price of the food
- where food is chosen from items on display: on a label identifying the food, next to, or in close proximity to each item of food which may be chosen, and displayed in a position which ensures that the label can be read by anyone choosing that food
- For prepacked for direct sale food chosen from items on display, calorie information may be displayed on its packaging as an alternative or in addition to a label next to or in close proximity to the item. Prepacked for direct sale items that are advertised for sale on a menu must have calorie information displayed on the menu.
Calculating calorie content
The calorie content displayed should be calculated using the conversion factors listed in Annex XIV of the Retained EU Regulation 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers and should be average values based on either:
- the manufacturer’s analysis of the food
- a calculation from the known or average values of the ingredients used
- a calculation from generally established and accepted data (in the UK this usually refers to the McCance and Widdowson’s Composition of Foods dataset; other established data may be more suitable for imported foods, for example EuroFIR or USDA Food Composition Data may be more
appropriate for foods imported from the United States)
- A combination of these methods is permissible for the same menu, or even the same product if it is made up of different constituent parts.
Accuracy of Calorie Information
Businesses should develop and implement processes to ensure that calorie information is as accurate as possible to ensure the food can be reproduced consistently each time it is made. However, in view of the inherent variation in ingredients, processing of foods, and exact portion size, a tolerance of plus or minus 20% would be considered an acceptable margin of difference between actual and declared calorie values. Enforcement officers should consider factors that may influence the accuracy of calorie information. For example, for items that are self-service, using measures such as ‘per scoop’, the exact portion size may vary more significantly than for portions which are not self-service.