The British Takeaway Campaign (BTC) has called for the government to provide free help for small businesses should it press ahead with plans for mandatory calorie labelling.
It follows a 12-week public consultation in which the government is seeking views on which types of businesses should have to display the information as well as how and where it is displayed. The plans form part of the government’s wider strategy to halve childhood obesity by 2030.
Responding to the consultation, Ibrahim Dogus, chair of the British Takeaway Campaign, said: "Takeaway restaurants have never had it tougher in terms of business rates and rents; they do not need the added cost of mandatory calorie labelling, which could run into the thousands of pounds.”
Ibrahim believes that while some larger chains have voluntarily adopted calorie labelling initiatives, most smaller, independent takeaway restaurants lack the time, expertise and money to carry out such practices.
He adds: ”If the Government is determined to press ahead with these plans, it should minimise the cost for small businesses – the backbone of the economy – and provide a free tool such as a simple online calorie calculator which would help takeaways provide more information to their customers. 9 in 10 takeaways say they would use such a tool should it be made available.”
The initiative has also received criticism from The Treasury which has threatened to block such a proposal, stating it is “burdensome” and warning it could cost some 26,000 small businesses over £500 a year to implement.
Public Health Minister Steve Brine supports the idea, however, and said: “Families want to know what they are eating when on the go, but in many cafés, restaurants and takeaways this information is not available.
“This is not about forcing anyone to eat certain things, or companies to behave in a certain way, but I firmly believe we have a right to know the nutritional content of the food we give to our children.”