From our Swindon Correspondent:
There’s some talk going around about the idea of restaurants having to, by law, put calories on menus.
So, why? What’s the benefit to the consumer? Well, we might say that it gives consumers more information. This doesn’t seem like a bad thing, but who has ever gone into a restaurant not knowing what the healthy and unhealthy stuff is? We already spend billions on education and public health telling people that deep fried pork balls are bad, and grilled chicken is better. That the fresh fruit salad with yoghurt is going to be better than the black forest gateau. Did this not work? Should we be cutting this spending because people need it spelt out in numbers?
Because this isn’t free. It’s the sort of information that suits restaurants that are quite industrial, like McDonalds and Subway. Everything’s prepared to a standard size and shipped in, so it’s not hard to calculate. What’s someone running a pub in Cornwall, who adapts their menu to the fish that are landed, of varying sizes to do? Spend their time figuring it all out from what they did when throwing it together at the grill? Do we want Men From The Ministry taking the dish and calculating the calories, and fining restaurateurs for their inaccuracy?
Can’t we just leave all of this to the market? Subway seem to have a marketing campaign based around how healthy many of their subs are, and they provide nutritional information to support this. If you really want to know how many calories you’re eating, go to Subway. If Bob’s Cafe doesn’t want to tell you how many calories are in his full english breakfast, go elsewhere.