Norfolk MP in government row over putting calories on restaurant menus
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A Norfolk MP is at the heart of a government row over plans to make all restaurants and cafes include calorie counts on their menus.
The Department of Health is expected to announce plans for eateries to display the amount of calories in each meal in a bid to help diners make healthier choices.
But the treasury has reportedly hit back at the proposals, saying the 'burdensome' cost to some 26,000 small businesses in the hospitality sector could cause job losses and price rises.
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A draft consultation seen by the Daily Telegraph says the legislation is designed to ensure consistent calorie labelling for restaurants, cafes, takeaways and online delivery services.
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Larger chains such as McDonalds, Wetherspoons and Pizza Express already include calorie counts on their menus.
But Elizabeth Truss, chief secretary to the treasury, has called for the government to 'show flexibility' in implementing the measures.
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In a letter to cabinet secretary David Lidington, South West Norfolk MP Ms Truss accuses the Department of Health – now led by West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock – of 'significantly underestimating' the cost of the policy to small businesses.
The treasury estimates a potential cost of £500 a year to smaller operators, the Telegraph said.
Ms Truss added that the measures could be particularly burdensome to restaurants which change their menus frequently to offer seasonal local foods.
The government is ramping up its efforts to protect public health – it has instigated a ban of sales of energy drinks to under 16s, with proposals to take the measures further, and ministers are also planning a 9pm watershed for advertising of junk food on TV.