FAST-FOOD outlets and high-street restaurants, including KFC, Burger King and Pizza Hut, have agreed to introduce calorie information on their menus.
Cafs in Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's, Co-op and Waitrose are among the 17 groups that will display calorie information per portion for most food and drink they serve.
The Pret A Manger and Subway sandwich chains and Wimpy restaurants have also signed up to strict criteria set out by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the Department of Health. They are joined by Harvester family restaurants, the Chessington World of Adventures theme park and Scream pub restaurants.
Comment: Just another taste of the nanny state
The new rules require outlets to show the number of calories in each portion in writing that is clear and at least as prominent as the product name or price.
By the end of June, 350 outlets including staff canteens run by the Post Office, Unilever and some hospitals, will have printed calorie information on menu boards, paper menus or on shelves. More companies are expected to join the scheme in the coming months.
Public health minister Dawn Primarolo said yesterday that Sodexo, which runs restaurants and cafes in military barracks, and 7 Day Catering, which runs restaurants in colleges, have also come on board. "People want to easily see how many calories are in the food and drink they order when they eat out," she said.
"This ground-breaking group of companies will help people to know what's in the food they are eating. I want more companies and more outlets to help more people live healthier lives."
Tim Smith, chief executive of the FSA, said: "We are pleased that such a diverse range of companies has agreed to work with us by introducing calorie labelling at the crucial point where their customers make a decision about what to eat.
"Our aim is to ensure that consumers have better information so they can make informed choices to improve their diet when eating out, whether that is a snack on the go, a meal in a staff restaurant or at a table being served by a waiter."
Julian Hunt, a director with the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), welcomed the initiative and said calorie labelling would help tackle obesity.
He said: "Calorie-per-portion information has been shown to be particularly useful for consumers. We agree with the government that calorie labelling is a natural starting point in the debate about how we improve the food 'literacy' of consumers."
Kentucky Fried Chicken: Popcorn chicken (large): 477 calories
Pret A Manger: New York Deli Sandwich (salt beef, gherkins, mustard mayo, spinach): 479
Subway: 6-inch Meatball Marinara sub: 520
Wimpy: Halfpounder beef burger: 842
Burger King: Double Whopper with cheese: 960
Pizza Hut: Cheesy Bites Meat Feast Pizza (large, 8 slices): 3,096