The British Hospitality Association has dismissed calls to add calorie counts next to each dish on restaurant menus as "totally impractical" and "absurd".
Internet restaurant booking service toptable.co.uk found 81% of its members wanted to see the calorie content of meals spelled out.
"It's a nightmare. The BHA is very much opposed to it," said chief executive Bob Cotton. "Busy chefs wouldn't have the time, the competence or the knowledge to calculate the calories on dishes that may change every day, or within the same day."
Midlands chef and restaurateur Pat McDonald agreed. "The menu could end up being a novel," he said, and warned that there could be legal problems unless chefs hired nutritionists to get the calculations right.
He believed it would be more useful and realistic to use a symbol, such as the green V for vegetarian dishes, to denote healthy options - something that 89% of toptable.co.uk members also wanted to see.
Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 5 August 2004