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Kinsale Restaurants Want Calories Off The Menu

In response to Minister Simon Harris seeking to ring the changes, where restaurants will be forced to introduce calorie counts on their menus, Chairman of the Kinsale Good Circle, Mr Ciaran Fitzgerald said: “While we welcome any steps to ensure a transparent and healthier society, we feel that this measure by the Minister is not practical for our industry. We have on our doorsteps access to some of the best produce in the world and this allows our chefs to exercise their creative flair and as a result Ireland has become known globally as a top Food destination. We believe that education is the solution not legislation and that proactive engagement between the industry and the government on creating an education platform around food and nutrition from an early age will achieve the objectives they are trying to achieve with these measures.” A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: “The implementation of calorie counts on menus is part of the Department of Health’s obesity strategy and has been Government policy since 2014.

It was first proposed by former Minister for Health James Reilly. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, in his tenure in Department of Health, secured Cabinet agreement to draft a general scheme and Minister Harris has prioritised the development of that scheme this year. It’s important to note that this work will be done in consultation with stakeholders. 

This is about informing consumers. 60% of our adult population are overweight or obese and 96% of respondents to a 2012 FSAI consultation wanted calorie menu labelling in food outlets. 

The culture and norms around smoking have changed over the past couple of decades and the smoking rate has decreased from 23% in 2015 to 20% in 2018. It is now the Department’s intention to make that cultural change on physical activity and healthy eating. 

The Public Health Alcohol Act has been the priority in terms of public health legislation in recent years, along with tobacco control legislation, and the development of law on calorie posting is progressing as part of this overall programme to support the main policies under Healthy Ireland. 

Food businesses have an important role to play in creating a healthier food environment and supporting their customers to make informed choices, whether by providing information such as calorie content, or by promoting healthier options and foods such as fruit and vegetables. 

The Minister intends that the legislation will provide for lead-in times to give businesses plenty of time to prepare for the changes.  Addressing overweight and obesity and assisting all of us to make informed choices about what we eat is an issue of national importance.

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