It’s not up to trade to police customers’ diets, say groups
A SCOTTISH quango has drawn fire from the hospitality industry over suggestions that all premises serving food should consider cutting portion sizes and publishing calorie information on menus.
The suggestions are among a number of recommendations made last week by Food Standards Scotland, which are aimed at improving the Scottish diet.
The proposals were slammed by industry groups.
Speaking to SLTN, Ryan James, chair of the Glasgow Restaurant Association and owner of restaurant group Two Fat Ladies, described the recommendations as “the nanny state gone mad”.
“There has to be a certain amount of sense applied to people’s diets,” said James.
“But using bars, hotels and restaurants as a method of intervention is nonsense, and it’ll go absolutely nowhere.”
He argued that what people eat at home is a bigger problem than what they are eating in the licensed trade.
“It would seem to me it’s the diet that’s the real problem – the actual seven days a week diet,” he said.
“If you’re a family struggling to make ends meet your food’s coming from [supermarkets] where you can get bulk stuff for reasonable prices, but it’s full of trans fat, sugar and salt, and that’s what causes obesity.
“For me, it’s about education, tackling poverty and using a little bit of common sense.”
Willie Macleod, executive director, Scotland, at the British Hospitality Association (BHA), agreed that more education on healthy eating is needed.
Like James, he acknowledged that obesity is a problem, but challenged the view that it’s up to the hospitality industry to encourage healthier eating.
“I’m not sure it’s altogether our responsibility,” said Macleod.
“I think the general public has a responsibility to themselves.
“Somewhere along the line the question of consumer education and customer choice has to come into account.
“If people are coming out for a relaxed evening, for a treat, we as an industry are there to serve them, not to police what they do on a night out.”
A spokeswoman for Food Standards Scotland said: “On March 8, Food Standards Scotland recommended the development of an overarching strategy to address food eaten outside the home in Scotland.
“This new recommendation aims to improve the Scottish diet and we will continue to work with partners to drive progress in all sectors, including licensed premises that serve food.
“Food Standards Scotland is encouraging caterers in Scotland to provide calorie information and avoid serving excessive portions to their customers.”