Opinion Piece · Other Bits!

Opinion Piece: My “tuppence-worth” re. Calories on Menus

As someone who eats out, I am incensed at our Minister for Health saying that putting a calorie count on menus will combat and bring down the level of obesity in Ireland.  I don’t believe that “95% of customers want to see calories displayed on menus”.

Incensed, yes, as he seems to think that no one can tell the difference between eating at a restaurant, or grabbing a burger & chips from a take-away.  Now, before anyone starts ranting, there is a huge difference between a menu which changes daily and seasonally, and one which never changes, year-round.  Those menus don’t take account of customer’s needs or preferences, and no amount of re-printing of menus will ever reflect that.

If this proposed legislation is implemented, it will see a huge decline in our well established (independently owned) restaurants, and, indeed, hotel-based restaurants, headed up by amazing Chefs and staff.

My family and I discussed this issue over dinner (at home!) this evening, and it spilled out over twitter, when The Friendly Farmer blogged about this very subject.

I have many friends who own and run restaurants, and we see, at first hand, how hard it already is, to run a business in these difficult times. The cost of calculating and re-printing menus is exhorbitant, and, as discussed with another Restaurateur, Copper & Spices, in Navan, a cost many cannot meet.

There are so many variables to cover, i.e. customer preferences and requests with regard to menu changes to suit.

As I said on Twitter, it is unworkable, and will serve no purpose but to push restaurants to the wall, and drive customers out.  The chain restaurants are the ones which need to be targeted, as in the U.S., as their menus never change, with regard to portion sizes and seasonality.  As Ms. Carmel Corrigan (co-owner of Copper & Spices in Navan) so rightly said, it would see the demise of Amuse Bouche, and Specials on a menu.

I think it would curb any Chef’s originality and creativity, as they would have to stick to a strict formula.

As someone who loves to eat out, and discover new restaurants and cuisines, it leaves me at a crossroads.  I love menu “specials” , and seeing Chefs push the boundaries to entice customers in, whilst at the same time, pushing their own creativity, and  giving diners an amazing culinary experience.

If the legislation goes ahead, what will become of food markets and suppliers, who depend on restaurant business?

I am not stupid, and, as a discerning diner and customer, I know which dishes are “healthy” and which are “indulgent”.  I don’t eat out every day, and who does?  I see more unhealthy options in supermarket trolleys and despair at the contents.  At the same time, that is that person’s choice, and they too can choose what they want to buy and eat.

I am tired of the “Nanny State” which exists in Ireland.  I can choose for myself, thank you, and I don’t need a calorie-count to “help” me.

On another note, maybe if our Minister for Health concentrated on the rubbish which passes as “food” and handed out to patients in Irish Hospitals, his time and effort would be better spent.

These are my opinions, have you any to add?

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8 thoughts on “Opinion Piece: My “tuppence-worth” re. Calories on Menus

  1. I so agree with you Colette, where is the ‘daily menu’ going to end up? what about seasonality? All this is going to do is make restaurants have menus that will never change because it will be too costly to get the ‘calorific’ content!!!

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  2. I am delighted to see someone mention the ‘food’ in our hospitals. This is exactly where the minister for health should be starting. My son spent a few days in hospital when he was two, this was where he got his first taste of chicken nuggets, which also lead to a nice bout of diarrhoea. It was also the only dinner I allowed him to eat during his stay, following that I provided his food for him. I was horrified that this would happen in a children’s hospital.
    I never ate hospital food myself either, how it could be deemed healthy is beyond me.

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  3. It’s a lot of political nonsense. The underlying reasons for our overweight population is a lack of food education and a consequent lack of interest in food and food preparation. Throw the availability of really cheap sugar and fat laden take out and frozen food and the fate of the fat population is sealed. Putting numbers on a menu won’t make any difference. What an ill conceived farce. Designed, I suspect to divert our attention from more important matters of state.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Conor. It certainly is, and I feel it is, like you, all smoke and mirrors. A huge burden, financially and in man-hours for Restaurants to comply, and implement. I won’t solve anything. Education, at a basic level is what is warranted. Easier to target restaurants, than change the curriculum in schools.

      Liked by 1 person

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