Pubs ‘will have to put calorie counts of wines, beers and spirits on pump labels and menus under new Matt Hancock plan’
- All alcohol sold in shops could also have to publish the same information by law
- Furthermore plans may see labels include warnings of dangers of drink-driving
- But industry bosses have hit back at the proposals, branding them ‘madness’
Number 10 plans to slap calorie counts on all alcohol served in pubs was today branded ‘un-British’.
Documents leaked last night revealed health chiefs want to force larger chains to disclose the amount of calories in every beer, wine and spirit ordered in their bars.
The scheme, drawn up by Matt Hancock’s Health Department, would see calories advertised on pump labels and menus at franchises like Greene King and Fuellers.
Critics described the plans as an ‘attempt to nanny the country’ and ‘disruptive’ for pub chains that are already struggling to claw back losses from the pandemic.
The Adam Smith think-tank told MailOnline: ‘Everyone already knows if you put away a few jars a day you’re likely to get fatter. The cost is going to fall on businesses who will now need to redo their labelling.
‘The Department of Health has spent the entire time [during Covid] on a crusade against food and drink when it should be focussing on the pandemic, which it has done a poor job of responding to.’
Health chiefs have proposed including an alcohol warning on every bottle from the chief medical officer Chris Whitty, who has gained a cult following during the pandemic.
As well as details of how fattening the booze can be, the plans would additionally see labels include information on the dangers of drink-driving.
Liquid lunch! These friends wrap up in coats and perch on a table outside a pub in Bath on Tuesday afternoon
Two young women drinking wine outside a bar on Old Compton Street, Soho, London, on Tuesday
The proposals, affecting any business with 250 or more people, therefore including most major pub chains, could undergo a 12-week consultation shortly, according to the Sun.
Public health minister Jo Churchill is said to be arguing that around a twelfth of drinkers’ calorie intake comes from alcohol and that the poorest and most overweight could be better off as a result.
While ministers have not yet calculated the wider benefits to consumers, there are fears that the plans will strike a £92 million blow to an industry already decimated by the Covid crisis over the last 12 months.
Free market think tank, the Adam Smith Institute, told the paper: ‘We don’t need government enforced calorie counts to tell us something we already know.’
Boss Matt Kilcoyne added: ‘Ministers thinking up this madness should stop and drop the policy.
‘Let the publicans and the punters do what they want in the pubs without Mr Hancock wagging his finger each time a pint is pulled.’
Crowds pack into an outdoor pizza bar in central London on Tuesday night as a semblance of normal life resumes
People knock back pints of Italian lager with their pizzas in central London tonight
It comes after Boris Johnson said yesterday that people shouldn’t become careless now that restrictions were starting to be eased, cautioning that it was because of lockdown rules that virus transmission is reduced, not the vaccines.
‘At the moment I cannot see any reason for us to change the roadmap or deviate from the targets we’ve set ourselves,’ he said. ‘But it is very very important that if we are to get there in the way we want, that people continue to be cautious, and exercise restraint.’
Thousands of drinkers were seen flocking to their usual hangouts, albeit with outdoor seating, in London Manchester and other major cities this afternoon.
London’s Soho was packed as bars set-up outdoor seating areas in the street to welcome back customers for the first time since December.
And at one pub, the Fox on the Hill, in London, the whole parking area was converted into a make-shift outdoor area – which was this afternoon filled with revellers rushing to return to their local watering hole.