With less than three months to go until the new calorie labelling legislation comes into effect, food businesses in England need to take action now to make sure they are ready for 6 April.
From April, food businesses with more than 250 employees will be required to provide calorie information for the foods they serve. This largely impacts contract caterers and franchise groups. However, there is strong encouragement from the government for smaller businesses to adopt calorie posting voluntarily until the scheme will be reviewed in five years. In Scotland, Food Standards Scotland and Public Health Scotland recently issued a joint policy statement committing to calorie menu labelling.
One big question to ask is whether or not your current menu and recipe management system is fit for purpose to capture ingredient information from suppliers right through to the design of menus, often at multiple locations and customer touchpoints.
To guide you through the process of auditing your existing system and software, Nutritics, founders of the UK Food Labelling Resource, share their top tips for food operators who need to meet the obligations.
You have three months to get your business ready, so it is a good idea to break down what you need to do, taking a different focus each month.
January: On Your Marks – Focus on Suppliers & Stock Audit
Start now and put robust processes in place well in advance. Make a list of suppliers. Audit all ingredients and products. What information do you receive from suppliers and what format is it in? Can you ensure this information is stored accurately and transferred to recipes and menus? How are changes to ingredients being managed? Document, standardise and quantify your recipes.
Check your menus. Are the fonts correct? Is the information clear and legible?
February: Ready - Focus on Software & Hardware
There are solutions that have been developed specifically for the field of food and menu labelling. You should evaluate whether you need to invest.
Automated solutions make time-consuming analysis much more efficient and greatly reduce the risk of human error. Look for software that can integrate with the menu creation processes and provide additional value like cost analysis.
March: Steady - Focus on Staff Training & Trial Run
Staff training and education should be ongoing but use this month to look at integrating calorie labelling training across your food production process.
Ensure all staff are fully aware of the Calorie Labelling Legislation, whether they are involved in ordering ingredients, managing software, producing food or selling to consumers. It is a good idea to appoint a ‘nutrition champion' to provide ongoing training to staff and ensure compliance across the board.
Once you have added supplier information, recipes and created menus in your chosen software system and trained staff, it is time for a trial run. Use the month of March to make sure your calorie labelling process is as smooth as possible.
April: Go - Business Readiness!
If you have followed all of the steps, your business is now ready to go!
Look at the 4S approach outlined above - Supplier, Stock, Software and Staff. Make sure you ‘future-proof' these four areas of your business to be compliant not just in April, but permanently.
For more free guides and details of training seminars, visit the Calorie Labelling Resource. You can also schedule a FREE BUSINESS CONSULTATION with labelling experts on how to adapt your business to the new calorie labelling legislation.