Leinster House to put calorie counts on menus

Plan to encourage TDs and senators to eat more healthily welcomed

Fine Gael TD Jerry Buttimer said the obesity problem must be tackled as a matter of urgency. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Fine Gael TD Jerry Buttimer said the obesity problem must be tackled as a matter of urgency. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Thu, Apr 4, 2013, 14:11

Members of the Oireachtas will be encouraged to maintain balanced diets with plans to display calorie counts on menus for food sold in Leinster House.

Minister for Health James Reilly presented research showing the benefits of calorie counts to the Oireachtas Joint Sub Committee on Administration last week.

Dr Reilly last year backed the recommendation of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland that calorie counts be included on menus.

The initiative will become operational over the coming months.

Fine Gael TD for Cork South Central, Jerry Buttimer, said it was a “very welcome" move.

“I believe that people should be aware of how many calories they are consuming in a bid to get to grips with the obesity epidemic and live healthier lives.”

Mr Buttimer said public representatives must lead by example and that the battle against adult and childhood obesity must be tackled as a matter ofurgency.

“By knowing exactly how many calories you are consuming at every meal, it is easier to maintain a balanced diet by making informed decisions.”

Restaurateurs, however, have said they have no plans to introduce calorie counts - a measure their representative body said would cost about €110 million a year.

Chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, Adrian Cummins, last year dismissed the proposal as “lunatic”.

Dr Reilly has said he would introduce legislation to force restaurants to display calorie counts if they failed to comply with a voluntary scheme.