Menu labelling - Potential legislation and the opportunities it brings.

Written by: Andrew Levey

Calorie information on menus. How to prepare for legislation and take advantage of opportunities.
A few weeks ago, Food Standards Scotland (FSS) recommended to the Scottish Government that food businesses must look at ‘significant changes to make food outside the home healthier’, including listing calories on restaurant menus. According to the FSS, the move has strong public support, with 68% of respondents to the consultation in favour of mandatory calorie labelling. With a similar consultation currently being analysed by the Government in England and Wales, mandatory food labelling may well soon be on the cards.

Obviously this brings a number of concerns for operators, not just from increased costs (including using labs to get accurate information, and the cost of updating and publishing information on menus) but also how it might limit innovation and the ability to stay competitive by making it more difficult to regularly refresh menus.

Fortunately, technology can help alleviate some of these issues. With a recipe and menu engineering solution, nutritional data can be uploaded by suppliers or downloaded from globally-recognised databases like McCance & Widdowson or the USDA, removing the need for expensive lab testing. Chefs can see the nutritional information of dishes as they’re being created, and can easily see how changes impact calorie counts. And if the recipe and menu engineering solution is part of a fully-integrated system, product and ingredient information can be automatically pushed to purchasing and inventory management and the POS, ensuring a single set of master data which improves accuracy and avoids re-keying data.

When it comes to publishing, technology can also help you reduce costs and admin. With automation, any menu changes can be instantly published to website, apps, digital displays, the POS and more. Pre-built menu templates also allow sites to print new menus locally while maintaining brand standards. This means you can continue to innovate, capitalise on trends and opportunities, and stay competitive.

Since allergen legislation came in across the EU back in 2011, some operators have already used technology to ensure customers can quickly and easily find menu items they can safely eat. Aside from complying with legislation, this also improves the guest experience and promotes brand loyalty. Savvy operators are now seeing similar opportunities with calorie information, to attract health-conscious customers to their business by providing this information on their website, apps, etc.

For more information on how technology can help with providing nutritional and allergen information and the opportunities this brings for your business, download our complimentary white paper.

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