SMALL takeaway and transport cafés could be exempt from new laws forcing restaurants to list calorie counts on menus.
Bosses have warned the cost of compliance could “choke the life out of” thousands of privately-run chippies, kebab shops and tearooms.
Ministers are now considering a get-out for food-sellers with fewer than five outlets.
The compromise emerged after Treasury Secretary Liz Truss warned it would put extra burdens on small businesses.
Under a plan drawn up by Theresa May’s No10 policy unit, restaurants and takeaways must list the calories in every item they serve.
It is part of the government’s plan to halve child obesity by 2030 – but would cost 26,000 small eateries about £500 each a year to carry out.
The idea has been on the back burner since before Christmas when a three-month consultation ended.
Takeaway owners want voluntary labelling for the smallest firms and a two-year delay for takeaways with five to ten outlets.
They are also demanding a government-funded online calorie calculator to help them work out how fattening their dishes are.
British Takaway Campaign boss Irahim Dogus has written to Treasury Minister Robert Jenrick outlining the compromise formula.
He said: “We are committed to providing customers healthier choices and playing an active role in tackling obesity.
“All we are asking is that calorie labelling plans are rolled out in a way that the small business owners who run our local fish and chip shops, our Kurdish and Turkish kebab houses and our Indian takeaways can cope with. Otherwise we risk choking the life out of a Great British institution.
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“Most takeaway restaurants are small, independent businesses which face an array of pressures from rising business rates to skills shortages. We want to ensure these restaurants, that are part of the fabric of British culture, continue to thrive while playing their part to promote healthy eating.”
He said many fast food outlets already offer a bigger range of healthy takeaway options.
About 65 per cent of takeaway restaurants now sell low-fat options, while 59 per cent sell low-salt items.
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