In July Dr James Reilly proposed putting calories on menus of all restaurants on a voluntary basis initially but threatened to make this mandatory if “people don’t come to the party” (see Drinks Industry Ireland September issue page 17).
This would cost the industry €110 million, claims the RAI.
The proposed changes lack support from restaurateurs, who’re still struggling to get credit from the banks and can’t afford the estimated €5,000 it will cost to implement calorie counts on their menus.
RAI Chief Executive Adrian Cummins believes that only a handful of restaurants have taken it upon themselves to change their menus to include calorie counts.
“It’s an unnecessary burden on restaurants that are already struggling to stay in business,” he said, “They are one of the biggest employment sectors in the country yet if this legislation was to be brought in jobs could be lost.”
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland recommended that calorie counts be brought in as one means of tackling the obesity problem in Irish society. However the RAI continues to question how the scheme would be monitored effectively.
The RAI Chief Executive pointed out that a commonsense approach to healthy eating is what’s needed in our society and believes that restaurants are not the cause of Ireland’s weight problems.
“We are instead proposing that restaurants include a ‘healthy option’ on their menus and include a universal healthy options symbol that would help to tackle the obesity problem we are faced with, while also being a cost-neutral solution for restaurateurs,” he stated, “Minister James Reilly hasn’t met with us yet; we need to sit down and meet with him so we can send out a clear message to our members on how to deal with this effectively and efficiently,” he concluded.