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Eating disorder charity frustrated and disappointed about calorie labelling on menus

On 22nd July 2021 the UK Parliament passed legislation making it compulsory for restaurants, cafes and take-aways with over 250 employees to print calorie labels on menus in England. 

This is despite concerns raised by Beat about the risks that calorie labelling poses to people with eating disorders and the limited evidence that calorie labelling on menus will have its intended outcome.

Andrew Radford, Beat’s CEO, has said:

“We are deeply disappointed that Parliament has chosen to overlook the research showing the risks that calorie labelling poses to those with eating disorders. 

Nevertheless, we are immensely proud of the Beat supporters who have campaigned together in their thousands to stop this legislation, with many sharing their personal experiences, and we are grateful for their work in helping mitigate some of the harms this new law will pose. 

Notably, customers will have the option to request a menu without calorie information and we urge restaurants, cafes and takeaways to ensure this is available. We also welcome the decision not to apply this legislation to education settings. It is highly unlikely that either of these steps would have been agreed had it not been for the efforts of our campaigners.

Beat will continue to call on the Government to take a more integrated public health approach to its work to address obesity, ensuring that any future campaign is developed in consultation with eating disorder experts, including people with lived experience.”

What does the legislation say? 

On July 22nd 2021 the UK Parliament passed legislation making it compulsory for restaurants, cafes and take-aways with over 250 employees to print calorie labels on menus.  

From April 2022, restaurants, cafes and takeaways in England with over 250 employees will be required by law to add calorie labels to their menus. This legislation does not apply to smaller establishments. It doesn’t apply in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, although some larger establishments might start adding calorie labels on menus across the UK. 

Restaurants, cafes and takeaways are allowed to offer a menu without calories upon request. However, they do not have to have a menu without calorie labels, so people with eating disorders must be prepared that this may not be available and may need to call ahead to check. 

Find our guidance on eating out with calorie labels on menus here.

If you'd like to read more about this campaign, please click here.