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24th May 2022

HSE Clinical Lead calls to include calories on Irish menus

Katy Thornton

The UK introduced the addition of calories on menus in April.

According to RTÉ News, Professor Donal O’Shea, the HSE’s National Clinical Lead for Obesity, is calling to include calories on Irish menus. The UK recently implemented this with the hopes of keeping customers informed of their eating choices. This plan was in the works before Covid hit, but had to be put on pause. Now that we’re seemingly edging our way out of the pandemic, the plan to include calories on Irish menus may resume.

What does this mean for Irish menus?

Many believe calorie information on menus will allow customers to make more educated decisions when it comes to ordering food. Up until now, adding calories to menus has been down to each establishment’s discretion. Under new legislation, it could be mandatory as a step in preventing rising obesity cases.

Professor O’Shea says that up to 30% of people will choose low calorie options if the calories are present. He told Claire Byrne that, “At a population level that is the change you can only dream of.”

During the pandemic, obesity spiked in the UK, prompting them to include calories on menus; Professor O’Shea believes Ireland likely faced a similar spike. However, in the UK only cafés, restaurants, and takeaways with more than 250 employees must add calories to their menus, according to Open Access Government. It remains to be seen whether the same approach will be taken to add calories to Irish menus.

Chief Executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, Adrian Cummins, disagrees with the proposal. According to RTÉ News, Cummins doesn’t believe it is practical, and hopes to be apart of the consultation process on this matter.

Header image via Shutterstock

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