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Count calories while dining out in Northern Ireland

Calorie conscious diners in Northern Ireland will soon be able to keep track of their intake at a number of restaurants under a new pilot scheme.

Eight businesses have initially signed up to Caloriewise, which has been launched by the Food Standards Agency to highlight daily guidelines which recommend men consume 2,500 calories per day, and women, 2,000.

FSA spokeswoman Maria Jennings said it was aimed at getting people to think about their overall calorie intake in a day and make informed choices.

"In Northern Ireland, eight out of ten of us eat outside the home every week, accounting for one in six meals," she told the BBC. "For all of these occasions, we often have no idea how many calories we are consuming. Eating out clearly presents a major information gap for customers.

"Caloriewise is not just about the occasional 'dining out' experience, but the more frequent occasions like visiting a sandwich bar for lunch on the run, meeting a friend for coffee or regular eating in a workplace canteen."

Stormont Health Minister Edwin Poots said the scheme would "deliver real benefits for consumers". "I would urge other businesses to pick up this mantle and work with the FSA to have a positive impact on your customers' health," he said.

Businesses taking part in the scheme will have to set out calorie information on food and drink items clearly and prominently for each portion or meal. Companies which have signed up include The Streat, Sodexo Catering, Botanic Inns, Aramark and Mount Charles catering, as well as three local healthcare trusts.

The Caloriewise pilot will run from May 1 to October 31.

Belfast Telegraph