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Wed 26 Jun 2019 02:50 PM

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Food for thought: What are the implications of calorie counts on menus for Dubai restaurants

As Dubai announces mandatory calorie values on menus, CEO talks to F&B leaders to get their take

Food for thought: What are the implications of calorie counts on menus for Dubai restaurants
Trevor MacKenzie is the Managing Director and Partner of Mango Tree Restaurants Worldwide, said it gives the restaurants an opportunity to educate on the benefits of a healthy cuisine.

With the news that all Dubai restaurants with more than five branches must display calorie content of meals by November and all restaurants to follow suit by January 2020, the implications for food operators could be huge.

Dubai Municipality’s initiative seeks to redouble the efforts of the National Nutrition Agenda to improve the eating habits of residents.

Tyrone Reid, CEO of Alabbar Enterprises, which has a portfolio including Angelina, Social House and Markette, says this echoes what other cities have done.

“With the UAE adopting this standard, it will allow our guests to make informed choices. When you look at the USA, little impact to the restaurant industry has been directly reported, so I expect the same here.”

The regulation will necessitate training to ensure all players are educated as to the changes.

“Development of the team will be key. We will need to have our team fully aware of the new requirements and how this may impact the guest’s choices. More importantly it’s about educating the team about why it’s been implemented,” he adds.

Trevor MacKenzie is the Managing Director and Partner of Mango Tree Restaurants Worldwide. He says there are pros and cons to Dubai restaurant menus having to show calories for each dish.

“Educating consumers is great as it helps increase awareness and reduces food waste, as people are mindful of how much they order – a small helping hand towards the sustainability we are all striving for. On the other hand, we have seen this type of rule in other countries and haven’t seen a great reduction in weight loss.

"Nowadays people have the internet at their fingertips so if they are concerned they can look it up. Eating healthily is a personal choice, it’s not a forced societal thing. Saying that, this gives us an avenue to educate on the benefits of Thai cuisine. Change is the hardest thing to manage as initially people resist, but our culture at Mango Tree follows the principles of Thai culture in being kind and helping one another.

"Our philosophy that all staff learn is we never feed anything to our customers that we wouldn’t feed our own children and we treat everyone as if they were coming into our own home. Living and breathing these points as we do already, I believe will make this education easier for our staff to adapt and implement.”