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How can better data help calorie labelling?

The UK government has announced calories will need to be labelled on menus for businesses with over 250 employees – how can better data management help?

Calories will be labelled on menus and food labels in out-of-home food businesses from April 2022, the government has announced.

This is based on a consultation undertaken and the results of a Public Health England survey on calorie reduction, in which 79% of respondents said they think that menus should include the number of calories in food and drinks.

Understandably, there’s been backlash from the hospitality industry which is only just starting to get back to business.

UKHospitality’s CEO Kate Nicholls went on record to say, “the extra regulatory and cost burdens of measures like menu labelling could not come at a worse time” adding that “menu labelling could cost as much as £40,000 per menu run for some businesses”.

As a long-standing partner and supporter of hospitality businesses, Comma are here to offer guidance and support on how better data can help ease the burden of the enforced calorie labelling and bring additional benefits to hospitality companies who are on the road to recovery.

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How can better data help?

We know from our experience of working with giants like Mitchells & Butlers and Greene King that Product Information Management (PIM) technology and the better data management it enables can help hospitality companies make processes such as allergen information management, ingredient recipe management and menu creation more efficient and deliver much greater transparency for their customers.

We believe that one of the biggest costs that hospitality will face with calorie labelling is the lab testing process of taking raw ingredients, cooking them and then burning them off to determine the calorie content.

Better ‘farm to fork’ ingredient recipe management means that companies can use nutrient data from approved sources such as McCance and Widdowson’s composition of food dataset to accurately calculate the cooked calories of a dish rather than having to go through an expensive lab test every time a new dish is introduced.

What other benefits are there?

As well as potentially reducing the on-going cost of calorie labelling, better ingredient data management can help companies be compliant with regulation and law such as EU1169 and the incoming UK Food Information Amendment (also known as Natasha's Law) which comes into effect from October 2021 and will require food businesses to provide full ingredient lists and allergen labelling.

Not only that but using PIM as a central ingredient data management solution means you have consistent data across your company that can be relied upon, for example, when sending menu data to food delivery companies or the myriad on online options now available to consumers.

There are also many benefits around supply chain, menu customisation and adding new services that better data management can bring to hospitality.

If you’d like to discuss Product Information Management and how it can help you make calorie labelling more efficient and less costly, get in touch with Comma and we’ll gladly offer our insight from years of working with hospitality brands such as Mitchells & Butlers, Greene King and Whitbread.