Hyderabad: The Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) of India is keen to get hotels to list the calories contained in the food items on their menus. The United States has made it mandatory for hotel menus to mention the calories, from May 5, 2017.
The FSSAI as a part of its health initiative wants all restaurants, hotels, snack bars and eateries to display the amount of calories in their dishes. Hoteliers, however, are in strong opposition to the proposal.
Mr Adarsh Shetty, president of the Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association, told this correspondent, “It is not possible for all small restaurants and eateries to display the calories in their food items. Why must we look at Western laws and try to implement them? Making it mandatory is not in the good interest of a large number of restaurants who are against it.”
The Food and Drug Administration has made it mandatory for hotel chains with more than 20 units to display the calories in their menu. In India, this is the first step towards implementing such an act. A senior food inspector said, “Presently, the regulator is looking at it on a voluntary basis. They are going to ask the larger chain of restaurants and high-end hotels to have calories on their menu.”
Hotelier Kamlesh Barot said, “We are working with the regulator and trying to have 200 members from various metros generate data on calories in the dishes and other nutritional information. None of us have this data, and we have to work from scratch.”
The hoteliers are worried as each of them has a different method of cooking. Besides, it would require engaging the services of a nutritionist to evaluate the exact amount of fats, carbohydrates, sugars and nutrients in the food.
A senior hotelier said, “This is an additional cost for the hotel as the evaluation can’t be done overnight. It will be an exercise of two to three months. How many of them can bear that extra costs? After seeing the calories, is it going to affect the number of customers?”
“What if the biryani in Delhi Barbur has more calories than the biryani in Cafe Almaz? Will the hotels lose out on their business,” he asked. “We do not know if this exercise is going to help us in the business or create trouble.”
Food inspectors state that the objective of FSSAI is to have a healthy menu in the hotels and the exercise was being taken up towards that end. “The ultimate benefit is for the customer, who must know how much calories they are consuming and accordingly consume their meals,” an official said....