Calorie Labelling in Large Restaurant Chains Enter into Force 

Obesity is one of the major health risks around the globe, in developing numerous chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, some types of cancer, strokes and more. The COVID-19 pandemic has further brought the dangers of obesity into focus, with obese patients being more likely to be admitted to intensive care or requiring advanced treatment, such as ventilation. A report published by NHS in 2020 summarized that obesity has become more common in adults and children in the UK. An increase of 4% of hospital admissions directly attributable to obesity was found, compared to 2019. This corresponds to a more convenient environment for eating out or getting takeaways, which has become a growing proportion of people’s diets in the UK. However, a lack of information about the calorie content of items sold at these establishments was identified, this poses limitations for families to make informed decisions on the meals they choose. 

As part of the government’s wider strategy to tackle obesity, the government announced in February 2021 the introduction of the Calorie Labelling (Out of Home Sector) (England) Regulations 2021, after the mandatory nutrient labelling for food products in 2016 and for prepacked foods in 2021 (Natasha’s law). The regulations, which came into effect from 6 April 2022, will introduce legislation to mandate calorie labelling for large food businesses (those with 250 or more employees) in the “out of home” food sector in England.

The out of home sector generally includes outlets where food and drink is prepared so it can be consumed immediately, whether on or off the premises. The calorie labelling will be required at the point of order for foods. The most common types of businesses in this area include restaurants, cafes, and takeaways. However, retail businesses, such as supermarkets, are also growing contributors to food on the go sales. Businesses will be required to calculate the calorie content per portion of food or drink item sold, while making it clear to consumers what a standard portion is.

Calorie information will need to be displayed on menus, online menus, third party apps, food delivery platforms and food labels at the point a customer is making their food and drink choices.

Food chosen from a menu

Food chosen from displays

* The required information must be easily visible, clearly legible, and cannot be obscured in any way by other writing or pictorial elements.

In addition to persuading consumers to make healthier choices, calorie labelling also aims to encourage the affected businesses to reformulate the food and drink they offer and provide lower calories options to consumers. According to the 2020 proposal impact assessments, the government believes that the regulations could substantially reduce the cost pressure to NHS, and increase the economic output by reduced premature mortality of the labour force. 

As an expert panellist, Paul Finglas, Head of Food Databanks National Capability at Quadram Institute, joined the roundtable discussions organised by Trade International about the impact and implications of the upcoming Calorie Labelling Regulations. Professionals from some of the most recognisable names in the food and beverage sector joined to share their thoughts on the regulations, including those from regulatory affairs, commercial projects, and food safety and quality assurance departments.

The roundtable was kicked-off with an overview of the regulations, including what is expected from affected foodservice and hospitality companies and what this means for consumers, followed by an in-depth discussion from the participants, covering any questions and clarifications surrounding the law, and measures they are taking to prepare for its implementation. More information can be found here: Calorie Labelling Regulations White Paper | Trade Interchange

More detailed information on the regulation can be found on the UK government website: Calorie labelling in the out of home sector – GOV.UK (

Food Databanks National Capability (FDNC), based at Quadram Institute Bioscience in Norwich (UK), provides the labelling dataset that contains the nutrient composition of the 2886 most commonly eaten foods and recipes dishes in the UK, which will help food manufacturers, restaurants, cafes, and takeaways calculate the calorie and nutrition information for their food products and recipes (

We also provide a service to calculate the nutritional content of food products and recipes to satisfy the needs of food establishments who need reliable and accurate nutritional information for labelling their products as required by new labelling regulations. 

See our website for further information

Blog author: Dr Liangzi Zhang