By Charlotte Okonji
Yesterday morning, celebrity chef and star of Lords and Ladles Catherine Fulvio made a special appearance at the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) HQ to launch a new initiative to encourage business to get to grips with MenuCal. A free online tool, MenuCal was designed to assist food business in both identifying allergens, and calculating the calorie content within their dishes. While it has been up and running for some time now, many businesses have been either reluctant to avail of this easy to use instrument, or are simply unaware of its existence. Research has found that 95% of consumers would like calorie information to be freely available in food outlets, and as businesses have a legal requirement to display allergen details, and with the Government’s proposal that calorie posting should also be mandatory, MenuCal could turn out to be a Godsend for the 22,000 food service business in Ireland.
Renowned chef and author, Catherine demonstrated just how simple MenuCal is to use while preparing two of her favourite dishes, winter chicken and pear casserole followed by an amaretto and chocolate torte, garnished with colourful edible flowers. “I’m a big fan of MenuCal and I find it invaluable in the kitchen! It’s so easy and quick to input ingredients and save recipes. It removes the need to keep excel spreadsheets that you need to manually input or amend ingredients. Once the ingredients are in, it’s very easy to modify your recipes. If, for example you have a signature sauce that you use in three dishes, and you want to make a change to the ingredients list for the sauce, that change is automatically made to all the three dishes. It’s also great if the kitchen receives a query about allergens, which we can revert quickly and confidently to the customer with the accurate information.”
The FSAI worked with team of nutritionists, computer scientists and food business trainers to create this accessible and adaptable solution for the Irish food industry. A first of its kind in Europe, the software was recently acquired by both the Food Standards Authority Northern Ireland and its counterpart in Scotland. MenuCal is available free of charge to both businesses and consumers alike on www.menucal.ie.