TDs returning to the Dail this week will now be able to keep a closer eye on their waistbands, following the introduction of calorie counting in the Dail restaurant.
According to Fine Gael TD and chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Health, Jerry Buttimer, this move will allow TDs, Senators and other Leinster House staff to make more informed decisions about what they are putting into their mouths.
"Menus in the Dail restaurant will now include the number of calories contained in each dish. This will act as a real incentive for those who are trying to lose weight or who simply want to keep an eye on what they are consuming.
"It is no secret that the life of a public representative can lead to unhealthy dietary choices which lead to unwanted weight gain," Deputy Buttimer said.
He noted that the Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly, has asked fast food restaurants, coffee shops and catering companies to voluntarily display the calorie content of food and drinks on their menus.
"Of the 19 companies contacted directly by the Minister, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has indicated that almost half are currently now displaying calories on their menus," Deputy Buttimer noted.
Research by the FSAI has previously shown that the vast majority of consumers want to see calories displayed on menus.
"With this in mind, and in a bid to assist smaller food establishments who may not have the experience or skills to calculate the calorie content of dishes, the FSAI is developing an online calorie calculator which will support food service businesses in calculating calorie content," Deputy Buttimer added.