U.K. Government Orders Restaurants to Cut Size of Desserts

dessert portion

U.K. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has ordered restaurants, pubs, and cafes to make their food and drink healthier by cutting sugar content, and to shrink the size of desserts. [1]

It’s all part of Britain’s plan to combat obesity.

Hunt met with more than 100 major food chains, including McDonald’s, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Starbucks, and Pizza Express, and warned them that each restaurant’s performance would be monitored and that a public campaign would name any violators. 

Hunt said:

“Going out to eat is no longer a treat. It’s a regular habit for many families and is contributing significantly to the extra calories and sugar that we all consume on a daily basis.

We can’t ignore the changing habits of consumers. This means we expect the whole of the out-of-home sector – coffee shops, pubs and family restaurants, quick service restaurants, takeaways, cafes, contract caterers and mass catering suppliers – to step up and deliver on sugar reduction.” [2]

He also told meeting attendees that people are consuming 1/5 of their sugar intake outside the home and 1/4 of families take children to eat at fast food joints each week.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, said:

“We need a level playing field — if the food and drink bought in cafes, coffee shops and restaurants does not also get reformulated and portions rethought then it will remain often significantly higher in sugar and bigger in portion than those being sold in supermarkets and convenience shops.

This will not help the overall industry to help us all make healthier choices.” [3]

Read: Experts Agree – Sugar Is a Health Destroyer

Additionally, Hunt wants restaurants to join supermarkets and food companies in their efforts to tackle the obesity crisis facing the country. [1]

Supermarkets and manufacturers have both also been ordered to reduce sugar in key products by 20% over the next 5 yearsa plan deemed “weak” by critics.

Currently, 2 out of 3 British adults are overweight or obese, and the health secretary fears the cost of treating obesity-related illnesses could bankrupt the nation’s National Health Service (NHS).

The government wants sugar reduced in the following nine categories:

  • cereal
  • breakfast foods
  • yogurts
  • cookies
  • cakes
  • candy
  • desserts
  • ice cream
  • spreads [1]

It will be up to the industry to determine how to proceed and meet the new stringent requirements. The government has promised to check in on the industry’s progress every six months. If by 2020 things are not moving at a suitable speed, the government says it will “add other levers to achieve the same aims.”

Britons will even be able to check up on the companies through a website.

Earlier this year, the U.K. government announced that it would levy a sugar tax on soft drinks beginning in 2018. [4]

Source: Mirror

The U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne told the House of Commons at the time:

“I am not prepared to look back at my time here in this Parliament, doing this job and say to my children’s generation… I’m sorry. We knew there was a problem with sugary drinks. We knew it caused disease. But we ducked the difficult decisions and we did nothing.”

Under the levy, drinks with more than 8 grams of sugar per 100 milliliters will be taxed at a higher rate than beverages with less than 5 grams of sugar per 100 milliliters.

The tax won’t apply to other sugary drinks, such as fruit juices.


[1] Fox News

[2] Mirror

[3] The Huffington Post U.K.

[4] The Sydney Morning Herald