Chefs plan protest against calorie counts
CHEFS around the country are planning a "white flu" protest against the planned calorie counts on menus, according to the Restaurant Association of Ireland.
Adrian Cummins, chief executive of the RAI, said members were determined to fight the proposals.
"We are planning a major lobby campaign to educate politicians. We want to open their eyes to what this will mean. This is an attempt at an industry-wide nanny-state regime.
"There has been huge turnouts at our meetings. I have never seen this level of anger. The chefs are talking about a white flu, mass opposition to the plans," he added.
The 'white flu' protest could include action such as the non-payment of any potential fines.
Mr Cummins said cafes and restaurants were willing to face fines and penalties to show their opposition to the plans.
He said such premises felt they were being "targeted" by the proposals thought up by the Special Action Group on Obesity.
"Everybody can see that schools and hospitals all still have fizzy drink and chocolate bar machines.
"Why are they targeting small cafes and restaurants and this is not being looked at at all?" he asked.
The RAI is currently undertaking a series of countrywide meetings to discuss the plans and any possible action with members.
"Obviously the legislation hasn't been published yet. We have been meeting with our members to put in place a campaign to fight the proposals if the Department of Health move forward with this.
"They [chefs] are not going to ignore it, they are going to oppose it," said Mr Cummins.
He said the main concerns were the significant costs involved, estimated at up to €5,000-€6,000 per premises.
Mr Cummins added that the proposals could not be policed.
"They are proposing daily specials would be exempt and it would only apply to the standard menu but who will check that the standard meals have the same calorie count every day. How will they police it?" he said.
The Department of Health said it plans to have legislation in place to require restaurants, takeaways and all food service outlets to post calorie details of all meals on menus by next year.