Would you like to see calorie counts on Irish menus?

Public views sought on legislation that will make menu calorie counts mandatory

Views are being sought from the public and food businesses about legislation that will make calorie counts on restaurant menus mandatory.

Under the legislative changes, all restaurants will have to publish comprehensive details of the calories of the food they serve.

The law is being drafted by the Department of Health. As part of the process, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has announced a national consultation.

The consultation, which runs until the end of this month, is based on the proposed Health and Wellbeing Bill. The Bill will apply to non pre-packaged food served for immediate consumption on or off a food business premises.


The new law will require all menus, including boards, leaflets and digital menus to display calorie details alongside the price, in the same type size and colour.

It is proposed that calories will be displayed in both kilocalories and kilojoules using a verifiable tool for calorie counting such as MenuCal, a free online calorie calculator developed by the FSAI.

The Department of Health is seeking opinions on specific aspects of the proposed legislation, including how calories for food served at self-service buffets should be calculated and displayed, and how the proposals will work for menu specials that are on sale for less than 30 days of the year.

The Department is also seeking views on “loose food, such as sandwich fillings served in delis; food meant for sharing; and multi-portion or ‘combo meals’.”

The Restaurants Association of Ireland has been fiercely opposed to the legislation and it has repeatedly warned that it will be unworkable and will impose costs of €5,000 on each restaurant.

While the legislation has been welcomed by some medical professionals in order to help tackle chronic obesity, some critics have pointed to research suggesting calorie counting is ineffective and even counter-productive in some cases with people deliberately choosing high calorie options believing such food represent better value for money.

All interested parties are invited to communicate their views by completing an online questionnaire on the FSAI's website (www.fsai.ie/consultations). The consultation will close on October 28th, 2015.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast