In April calorie labelling on menus became a legal requirement for restaurant groups employing over 250 staff in the UK, but now the government could be looking to drop them altogether.
Under the orders of the Treasury, government ministers have ordered an official review of its anti-obesity strategy. As a result, menu calorie counts could now be scrapped as part of a ‘drive to cut red tape’, reports The Guardian.
First introduced on April 6, new rules currently require larger hospitality businesses to display calorie counts ‘clearly and prominently’ along with the statement ‘adults need around 2000kcal a day’.
But now a new review, described by Whitehall sources as “deregulatory in focus”, could see the policy ditched entirely, meaning many cafes, takeaways and restaurants thart have invested in printing new menus will now likely find them redundant.
When calorie labelling came into force, it was widely criticised by eating disorder charities, restauranteurs, chefs and food critics alike.
Then Public Health Minister Jo Churchill, said at the time: “Our aim is to make it as easy as possible for people to make healthier food choices for themselves and their families, both in restaurants and at home. That is why we want to make sure everyone has access to accurate information about the food and drink we order.
“These measures form an important building block in our strategy to support and encourage people in achieving and maintaining a healthier weight.”
Masterchef winner Simon Wood, who has a restaurant on First Street, appeared on TV the morning the legislation was introduced to speak out against it.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, the Oldham-based chef said that although the rules didn’t currently apply to him, he wouldn’t consider following suit unless forced.
He told viewers: “Sometimes given the current situation with hospitality and the supply chain things aren’t there, you have to adapt your menu on the fly, what are you going to do? Rewrite it every day?
“What if things don’t turn up? What if you’re making a sauce and you need four bottles of wine but you’ve only got two?
“What if someone adds too much salt, sodium, things like that that aren’t considered in calories, I think there’s a bigger approach to what people should be looking at than just a number.”
A week later, Manchester restaurant Dishoom made headlines for scribbling calories off its menu at a customer’s request. Soon after, it added a calorie free option.
Many others have since followed suit, suggesting the move to ditch calorie labelling could prove popular with business owners.
However, the review may also look to ditch the 2018 sugar tax, a measure hailed by experts for helping to make soft drinks less unhealthy.
It is also likely to reverse bans on displaying sugary products at checkouts and multi-buy deals, as well as scrap restrictions on advertising before the 9pm watershed.
Health officials are said to be ‘aghast’ at the idea that the new Prime Minister could potentially scrap the new anti-obesity strategies, which were agreed upon and approved by parliament just this year.
The Obesity Health Alliance, a grouping of 50 health charities and medical organisations, has described it as “a kick in the teeth”.
“We are deeply concerned. It would be reckless to waste government and business time and money rowing back on these obesity policies, which are evidence-based and already in law. These policies are popular with the public, who want it to be easier to make healthier choices,” Katharine Jenner, the alliance’s director, told The Guardian.
There has also been criticism of the move from within the Conservative party, with one Tory peer telling the paper: “Improving the nation’s health is one of the best ways we can increase productivity and workforce capacity and thereby drive growth. So I would be very surprised by any decisions that actually strive to make the UK less healthy.”
Liz Truss said in a recent newspaper interview: “Those taxes are over.
“Talking about whether or not somebody should buy a two-for-one offer? No. There is definitely enough of that.”
She added Brits “don’t want the government telling them what to eat”.
Government refuses to deny reports HS2 may not run from Manchester to central London
The UK government is refusing to deny recent reports that HS2 may not run from Manchester directly through to central London.
The Sun reported this week that HS2 is currently in “shambles” and that rising inflation and construction costs could mean that trains may terminate in the suburbs of west London instead of London Euston, as has always been planned – with the paper saying transport bosses were considering pushing back the service’s Euston terminus to 2038, or even scrapping it all together.
The paper reported that trains would be instead stopping at a new hub at Old Oak Common in west London’s suburbs, which is about 8km (five miles) away from Euston.
Passengers would then have to finish their journeys into central London by using the Elizabeth Line.
On top of all of this, the paper also reported that anywhere between a two to five-year delay to the entire project is also being considered by the government, however ministers are refusing to confirm or deny any of the reports.
A statement provided by a Department for Transport (DfT) spokesperson reads: “The Government remains committed to delivering HS2 to Manchester, as confirmed in the autumn statement, and as well as supporting tens of thousands of jobs, the project will connect regions across the UK, improve capacity on our railways and provide a greener option of travel.”
HS2, which has the full name High Speed 2, was originally intended to connect London with Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds.
The leg to Leeds has since been scrapped in November 2021, but work on the first phase of the project between London and Birmingham is now well under way, with a part of the line due to open by 2033, despite the fact the project has faced delays and mounting concerns over the exact route, and its potential environmental impact.
While a budget of £55.7 billion for the whole of HS2 was set in 2015, this was made before the Leeds leg was cancelled, and the estimated cost of HS2 was therefore set between £72 billion and £98 billion at 2019 prices.
A report published last October found it was unlikely that the £40.3 billion target for the first section of the line would be met.
A senior figure at the DfT warned last week that ” tough decisions” could lie ahead for the scheme.
Featured Image – HS2 (via gov.uk)
This hidden Manchester pasta and dumplings restaurant has just made the Michelin Guide
Michelin has just added some new additions to its guide, and one of our favourite Manchester restaurants has finally made the cut.
Loved by locals for its continental pasta and dumplings, gorgeous European wine list and sake collection, The Sparrows in the Green Quarter is something of a hidden gem – tucked in a disused railway arch on Red Bank.
It received rave reviews from local and national critics alike when it first opened in 2019 in a tiny space with room for just 12 covers. Since then, it’s relocated to a bigger home and its following has grown significantly.
After spending years wowing foodies in the know, the restaurant has made it onto the radar of Michelin’s inspectors at last – and we have to say, the accolade is well deserved indeed.
Front of house is headed up by Polish-born Kasia Hitchcock with her chef partner Franco Concli at the helm in the kitchen. Plates celebrate Franco’s Tyrolean heritage, with their signature dish spätzle, a rustic fresh egg pasta from which the restaurant takes its name, sitting front and centre.
Traditionally made by scraping dough from the wooden board straight into a pot of boiling water, these irregular-shaped delights translate from Swabian-German to mean “little sparrows.”
Served in multiples ways, they can be enjoyed either savoury or sweet – mixed with braised onions into a creamy gruyere and Emmental cheese sauce, as is traditional, or transformed into a pudding with a touch of cinnamon, brown sugar and butter.
Joining the now seventeen Manchester restaurants to be featured in the prestigious guide, its description reads as follows: “Nestled under the railway arches in Manchester’s Green Quarter is a restaurant whose name is (almost) the English translation of the word ‘spätzle’ – which gives some clue as to the style of food on offer here.
“The dumplings and assorted pasta dishes are all made in-house and include excellent pierogi. The focus on Eastern Europe carries through to the wine list, which has a leaning towards Polish wines.”