IRELAND is lurching ever closer to a nanny-state according to Charlie Flanagan TD, with the news that the Minister for Health is calling for a calorie count to be featured on all menus in public eateries.
In a move that is estimated to cost all restaurants €5,000 to implement, Minister James Reilly has confirmed that it will soon be mandatory for restaurant menus to carry the full calorie count of all dishes served. The proposal has been condemned not just by the catering industry but by the public at large, with a report by The Restaurants Association of Ireland indicating that only 18% of people are in favour of calories on menus in fine-dining restaurants and only 26% want them in gastro-pubs.
Speaking to the Leinster Express, Deputy Flanagan described the proposal as “another example of the creeping nanny-state”.
“In too many human endeavours, personal responsibility is being abdicated to the State, there’s more and more intrusion into people’s lives,” he said. “It’s also imposing high charges and considerable costs on an already hard-pressed industry.”
Dep Flanagan said he believed in “personal responsibility and parental responsibility” and he questioned how successfully the proposal would really address the issues of healthy eating. Calorie count menus have already been introduced in America, where according to a study by New York University only one in six customers paid any attention to the information.
Local chef and former restauranteur, Jim Tynan also described the proposal as “a load of nonsense”.
“If they’re looking at food production, it’s processed food that needs to be looked at instead,” he said. “It’s processed food that gives all the other food a bad name.”
Jim, who writes the weekly food column for the Leinster Express, pointed out that the proposal would create a lot of unnecessary paperwork and the work involved would eat into staff’s time. He also said that a focus on calories could be misleading.
“Calories mean nothing, a balance is needed between fat and protein, they’re not giving out the proper information at all. If they’re going to police something, it should be the processing of food,” he declared.