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Tavern calls for “Education not Legislation” on calorie count crisis

Responding to the proposed ‘calorie count’ law Chef Owner Myles O’Brien of The Tavern Bar and Restaurant urges all catering owners and workers to speak out. He is calling on them to respond to the consultation period opened by Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD and to contact their local politicians to express their displeasure at the prospect of mandatory calorie counts on menus. The Vintners Federation of Ireland have also called on members to react. The consultation questionnaire will be open until 5pm on Friday 14thFebruary – St. Valentine’s Day.

“We are calling for Education NOT Legislation. It is the government’s job to educate its people not the chef’s job.”, Myles O’Brien explained, “Chefs are culinary artists and cooking is an art not an exact science. Chefs use fresh ingredients - we cook with the senses of smell and taste, adding a little extra when needed. Dishes are not and should not be uniform. Every fish fillet or rack of lamb isn’t precisely the same size and doesn’t have exactly the same fat content”.

“Restaurants have enough legislation to deal with at the moment in these particularly hard times”, he continued, “The cost of trying to calculate calories and reprint menus is both a financial cost and costly in a chef’s time. If this legislation goes ahead, restaurants will be discouraged from changing menus seasonally and specials weekly or daily. Chefs should be doing what they are best at – cooking, not calculating calories”.

Industry bodies have reacted negatively to the consultation period. Padraig Cribben, Chief Executive of the Vintners Federation of Ireland, said that asking business owners for their opinion after making the decision to introduce legislation is an empty gesture by the Department of Health. “We are calling on all our members serving food to contact Minister Simon Harris to express their dismay over this week’s announcement,” said Mr Cribben. “This is a badly thought-out idea that should not progress any further.”

Adrian Cummins, CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland also spoke out against the proposed legislation.

Myles O’Brien concluded saying that “Irish food has grown in quality and reputation by leaps and bounds over the last 15 years; implementing this legislation will set it right back. So, I urge all catering staff to tell politicians to keep our jobs safe and secure. Let’s prevent this mandatory calorie count on menus of any restaurant or cafe that is not a chain with more than five outlets. The restaurant business is highly labour intensive and a great financial contributor to local economies”.

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