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Scheme Helps Consumers To Be Wise to Calories

27 June 2019

With one in six meals eaten outside the home in Northern Ireland, food businesses have an increasingly important role to play in the health and well-being of consumers by enabling customers to make healthier choices when eating out and on the go.  

Calorie Wise is a free, voluntary scheme, run by Mid Ulster District Council, in partnership with the Food Standards Agency that encourages food businesses to display calorie information on their menus to help consumers make those healthier choices.

It is recognised that unhealthy diets that are high in calories and saturated fat can lead to obesity. Obesity can also increase the risk of some types of cancer, as well as increasing the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. 

Eating out can often be a challenging experience for someone trying to reduce the amount of calories they are consuming, especially when limited dietary information is provided. 

The Calorie Wise scheme addresses this by asking businesses to display calorie information clearly and prominently on menus, or menu boards, for standardised food and non-alcoholic drinks items. 

The award winning Dolphin takeaway in Dungannon is one of the first takeaways in the district to be awarded the Gold award. Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Martin Kearney presenting a Gold Award to Malachy Mallon, owner of the Dolphin takeaway commented: 

“One of the key priorities of our Community Plan is to enable our community to live longer, healthier and more active lives. Growing healthy communities means focusing on early intervention and prevention measures. The Calorie Wise programme gives consumers the power to make those healthy choices now that will benefit them in the long run, and we would encourage businesses to take part in the scheme to support consumers in making healthier choices.” 

Food business owner Malachy Mallon said: 

“We at the Dolphin Dungannon & Armagh were delighted to get involved with the Calorie Wise program.  For us, it's a continuation of our journey in the food industry as we have always been transparent and informative on our procedures and practices.  It's been a few years now from we first starting analysing our food in an attempt to understand where we were, and what we could do, to make our product healthier and at the same time make it easier for the customer to make an informed choice when ordering food.” 

The Calorie Wise Scheme is open to any restaurant, takeaway, cafe, pub, sandwich shop and staff restaurant or other outlet where you can eat out, provided that the business can demonstrate how calorie information will be displayed in line with the scheme requirements.  

Businesses can apply for either the Gold or Silver Calorie Wise Award. The only difference between the gold and silver award is the requirement to label all or 30% of menu items respectively. 

Participating restaurants will display their Calorie Wise sticker on the door or window, look out for it the next time you’re eating out. For more information visit www.food.gov.uk/CalorieWise and if you are a business interesting in further information on how to join the scheme contact environmentalhealth@midulstercouncil.org 

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