The RAI also expressed significant concerns at the way in which the survey had been formatted.
“The survey issued by the Department of Health is biased,” claimed RAI Chief Executive Adrian Cummins, “There are no options, only to agree that calories should be on menus. Our members are outraged and insulted by this questionnaire.”
Introducing new legislation forcing restaurants to display calorie counts on their menus will cost the industry €110 million and thousands of jobs, claims the RAI which believes that education is key to tackling the obesity problem in Ireland and not calorie counts on menus.
Any proposed legislation requiring restaurants to have calories on menus will cost each restaurant an estimated €5,000 per year, according to the RAI.
“At a time when restaurants are trying to create new jobs as well as saving existing ones, extra costs don’t need to be placed on them,” it stated.
“In December 2014, Allergens on Menus were brought in,” commented Adrian Cummins, “Feedback from our members is that it takes an additional four to five hours each week to prepare this information and now the Government want to enact calorie on menu legislation adding more hours and costs to the restaurant.
“How does the Department of Health suggest that we pay for this without having to pass on that cost to employees, reduce their hours or cut staff? It’s not easy for a business to cough up €5,000 in the morning. The banks aren’t lending us any money.”
He reiterated that the proposals were “total nonsense” and pointed out how it would also be an unnecessary burden on the taxpayer as the measures would be virtually impossible to monitor.
“How does the government propose that this will be monitored? Will civil servants be paid to eat out in all of Ireland’s 22,000 food outlets and check if each menu has calorie counts on them?
“Any chef will tell you that menus in restaurants vary from day-to-day and therefore calorie counting would be highly inaccurate anyway. It’s difficult to calculate hand-crafted dishes correctly.”
Calorie counts on menus have already been introduced in the US with disastrous results, he said, adding that, “Five out of six customers paid no attention to the information according to a study by New York University”.