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Calorie Labelling

From 6th April, some food businesses in the out-of-home sector will need to display calorie information on menus.

New legislation to address the UK’s obesity crisis will require all major caterers to provide calorie information alongside dishes. For Pelican clients, the good news is that some of the work has already been done for you. So here’s what you need to know.

New rules

The new rules mean foodservice operators will need to update their menus, to help consumers make healthier food choices. The new legislation applies to any business with 250 or more employees (including part-timers) that sells non-prepacked food or drink – most hospitality businesses will be affected, as well as universities, contract caterers and most franchise businesses.

There are some notable exceptions, including schools and colleges (providing education to pupils under the age of 18), prisons, hospitals and care homes that will not need to comply.

The foodservice operator needs to display the number of calories (kcal), the energy content, per portion, along with a reminder on the menu that an adult should consume no more than 2,000 calories per day.

The calorie information displayed needs to include all components of a dish, such as tomato ketchup in a burger bun, dressings included in a salad dish, or mayonnaise in a fishfinger wrap. You do not need to consider customer-added condiments, such as coffee syrups, ketchup or mayonnaise, which are added after purchase.

There are some exceptions, for example there is no need to provide calorie information for special menu items that appear for less than 30 consecutive days, and a total of 30 days in any year.


Information about the number of calories for an ingredient can come from manufacturers and suppliers or from standard reference data such as McCance & Widdowson’s Composition of Foods Integrated dataset (CoFIDs).

The legislation requires organisations to develop and implement processes to ensure that calorie information is as accurate as possible, including a system that allows dishes to be reproduced consistently every time they are made.

To cope with processing and ingredient variations, and ingredient substitutions, a tolerance of plus or minus 20% is considered an acceptable margin of difference between actual and declared calorie values.

Whatever method you use for calculating ingredient and dish calories, it is sensible to keep records of how information has been sourced and calculated, should enforcement teams want to know in future.

Piranha is here to help

Piranha Case Study

All Pelican clients have free access to Pi – our online procurement system which has been designed to help make your tasks easier and more efficient. And, within the ‘Piranha’ menu management module, we have already created a simple solution that calculates menu item calories for you.

Calorie data for supplier products is managed by the Pelican team – we request this data on your behalf.

If you are not familiar with Piranha and would like to find out more – please get in touch at

Tips for calorie calculating success in Piranha

  • Make sure your ingredient list is accurate – check that the items in your recipe are the ones that are actually being used!  Ensure that your team reviews the recipe regularly to ensure that it remains correct.
  • Make sure that quantities in the recipe reflect how the dish is being prepared. If your chefs veer away from following the recipe, then your cost, allergen, calorie and nutritional information will be wrong. Ensure that portion control measures are being used. 
  • Ensure that you enter the number of portions that the recipe produces and the weight of a portion of the finished dish and add this information in the ‘yield per recipe/portion’ box in Piranha (Whilst this does not affect the portion nutritional information, it will affect the per 100g nutritional information).
  • Use ingredient weight (g) and volume (ml) used in the recipe to improve accuracy and prevent potential errors from occurring.
  • Remember to include any cooking fats in your recipe such as oils and butter as these products have significant calorific values.

For more on the new regulations click here.

We are here to help

If your business is impacted by this new legislation and you’d like to learn more about Pi’s solutions, including the Piranha menu management module, email us at to book your personalised demo.

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