If you live in the UK and treat yourself to a Big Mac at McDonald's, you will soon be able to see exactly how many calories you are consuming. Ugh: did that put you off the extra fries?
Ditto Burger King, Pizza Hut, KFC, Wimpy and 165 other fast food restaurants. It's all part of an attempt by the government to fight obesity by giving people more information about the food that they are eating. Would that it was that simple.
Subway, which has overtaken McDonald's as the biggest fast food restaurant in the UK has refused. However they are happy to claim that McDonald's Big Mac contains up to five times more fat than Subway's sandwich rolls. But others say that a Big Mac has 490 kcal, and a Subway 6" double meat Italian BMT sandwich has a massive 630 kcals.
PIzza Express has refused because they say it's "not consumer friendly and would clutter up their menus." That is the least of their worries. Pizza is hugely fattening: an average 12" pizza has 1122 kcal - and few people realise it. So it's no wonder that Strada, a sit-down pizza restaurant has also refused, as has Bella Italia. Cafe Rouge (fake french cafe) has too.
The Public Health Responsibility Deal unveiled by the government will cover 5 different areas: food, alcohol, physical activity, health at work and behaviour change. Representatives from industry and government have been involved in the formation of the pledge.
Signing up is voluntary but over 170 companies have already. The food deal requires companies to "provide calorie information for food and non-alcoholic drink for customers in out of home settings from 1 September 2011", as well as cutting salt in products by a further 15 per cent by 2012 and removing artificial transfats by the end of this year.
Photo: The Real Greek
The Real Greek was the first to tell all and it has had an impact on ordering. One representative said 'We saw a shift to less calorific foods, and sales went up. However, we're not sure if this was because of the disclosure or the coverage we received.'
The alcohol deal requires manufacturers and retailers to ensure that "80 per cent of products on shelf (by December 2013) will have labels with clear unit content, NHS guidelines and a warning about drinking when pregnant".
Pubs will be displaying information on beermats, branded glasses or on the beer pump about the size and amount of alcohol so that when drinkers go to the bar they will see it.