Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has called for the introduction of mandatory calorie labelling on menus, including food to go items, and takeaways/home delivery.

It is part of a drive for “significant changes” in the food industry to make food consumed outside the home healthier, in order to help tackle Scotland’s obesity crisis.

FSS is also calling for businesses to improve the range of healthy food and drink choices on children’s menus.

The organisation said the evidence-based recommendations had received strong support from the public, with a recent consultation finding that 68% of those asked were in favour of mandatory calorie labelling, and wanted healthier options for children.

Ross Finnie, Chair of Food Standards Scotland, said: “Eating out is now part of our everyday experience and is not always a treat as it was in the past, but we also know that calorie consumption out of home is often more than calories consumed in the home. Many popular out of home choices, such as burger meals and fish and chips can also contain nearly all of our recommended daily calories in one meal alone.

“That is why this sector is so important in tackling our health crisis. Government, individuals and industry have a responsibility to change the current diet, and we expect the out of home sector to be helping drive that change. It can and should act now, and should not be waiting for government regulation to make changes.”

However, the recommended measures have been described as a “retrograde step” by UKHospitality.

It warned the introduction of mandatory calorie labelling would place a significant burden on Scottish hospitality businesses.

UKHospitality executive director for Scotland Willie Macleod said: “We are certainly supportive of efforts to promote healthier attitudes to food and drink, and Scotland’s hospitality businesses have already been leading the way.

“Many businesses have already taken action to reformulate menus, reduce calories and increase the level of choice and transparency for customers,” he said, adding that this had been done on a voluntary basis.

He said the introduction of mandatory labelling would cause significant problems for some businesses, particularly SMEs, and would represent “considerable additional cost” for businesses already facing tightening margins.

“It would also represent a considerable burden for those venues that change their menus regularly, some on a daily basis, to incorporate locally sourced produce, seasonal ingredients and specials. Small and medium-sized businesses might also find their ability to innovate, particularly when tackling food waste, severely restricted. The end result is likely that prices would go up and investment would go down with much less choice for customers.”