How to Display OOH Mandatory Calorie Labelling

Katie Paterson

March 29, 2021

The government have introduced a number of steps to reduce the rate of obesity in the UK. For example, salt and sugar targets to reduce the amount in the foods that we consume, restricting the times that unhealthy food companies can advertise on television to after 9pm, and stopping all offers on unhealthy confectionary in supermarkets.

The government are also introducing mandatory calorie labelling for the out of home sector so that customers can see how many calories are in the foods that they are consuming and can chooses healthier options.

OOH mandatory calorie labelling will be for compulsory for companies with over 250 employees, however there are plans for the regulation to incorporate companies of all sizes in the next few years.

Smaller companies have also been asked to voluntarily implement calorie labels in the meantime.

Why has obesity become a concern?

In the year 2000, 21% of the population were considered obese, this has increased to 28% in 2019, meaning that nearly a third of the UK population are obese, and another 36.2% on top of that are overweight.

Living with obesity increases your chances of developing heart disease, some cancers, and diabetes.

Covid-19 has highlighted the damage to health that obesity has. Studies have found that a non-active person of a healthy weight is at less risk of developing diabetes, hype-cholesterolemia and hypertension than an active obese person.

Obese and overweight people also have a higher chance of being hospitalized and falling seriously ill with Covid-19 (CDC Childhood Obesity, 2020).

According to the government legislation (before lockdown), we are eating out more often, with 43% of people eating out once or twice a week. When eating out, adults eat 200+ more calories per day compared to when they prepare and eat food at home. Restaurant and takeaway meals often serve bigger portions, meaning even more calories.

How to correctly display calorie labelling

- Restaurants will need to have the calories of each dish on their menus, whether that is a digital or paper menu.

- Anywhere offering a buffet service will have to label each food at the point of choice, for example at a breakfast buffet each component will have an individual label i.e. 1 rasher of bacon = 50 calories.

- Prepacked food for direct sale (PPDS) prepared on-site will also need a calorie label either on its packaging or at the point of choice.

- Items displayed on a hot counter packed at the customer’s request (A sausage roll put in packaging after the customer has chosen).

- Exemptions include specials and condiments, loose fruit and vegetables and items which typically require further preparation (uncooked meats and fish).

What information should be displayed

Displaying the calories alone may be ineffective as not everyone understands calories as a measurement of energy or how much they should be eating. To give the labels context businesses must display calorie information as a proportion of recommended daily intake or including a reference to recommend daily calorie intakes along with calorie labels.

The contextual labelling must be a woman’s recommended daily intake which is 2000 calories. This keeps OOH calorie labels in line with existing requirements for prepacked foods. Duty to display calorie information will include statement “adults need around 2000 kcal a day”.

How can we help you stay compliant?

We have prepared a calorie labelling solution which enables businesses of all sizes to display accurate calorie information.

Smart Chef stores all of your product data in one place ensuring that all calorie labels are up to date and accurate. Digital menus can be automatically updated if there are any changes to the dishes. We can help you calculate the calories and nutritional values in your food to comply with the new labelling requirements. We also offer print services to correctly label your products in line with PPDS (prepacked for direct sale) legislation beginning October 2021.

Our technical team at NT are on hand to advise including:

·       How to comply with the new requirements.

·       How to calculate calories.

·       How to calculate nutrition.

·       Software services to help you manage your data.

·       Labelling solutions to print and correctly label your products.


Part3: Adult overweight and obesity - NHS Digital
Obesity Statistics - House of Commons Library (
OP-EURJ2001541..3 (
Mandating calorie labelling in the out-of-home sector: government response to public consultation (