Health Bulletins

Proposed Amendments to Strengthen Menu Labelling Regulation

July 22, 2016

Following extensive consultation, Ontario is proposing various improvements to clarify its menu labelling regulation.

The regulation for menu labelling, which is made under the Healthy Menu Choices Act, 2015, will come into force on January 1, 2017 and will help Ontarians make healthier food and beverage choices when dining or ordering out. It will also help to raise public awareness about the calorie content of food and beverages eaten outside the home.

Owners and operators of food service premises that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations in Ontario will be required to display calorie information for every standard food and beverage item on their menus, and on display tags/labels or signs where standard food items are put on display or are self-serve. They will also be required to post a contextual statement regarding average daily calorie requirements to help consumers put the calorie information into context.

The ministry has posted the proposed amendments to the menu labelling regulation and is inviting the public to give feedback for the next 15 days.

The current regulation, which was filed on March 4, 2016, is available online here.

The proposed amendments, which are available online here, include:

  1. The addition of a definition of "grocery store," which includes convenience stores that sell the same items.
  2. Updating the regulation to include calorie intake categories for children as part of the contextual statement:
  3. "Approximate daily calorie needs are as follows, however individual calorie needs may vary:

    • Adults: 2000-2400 cals
    • Children aged 2-9: 1100-1500 cals
    • Children aged 10-17: 1500-2450 cals"

    The updated contextual statement would come into effect on January 1, 2018.

    From January 1, 2017-December 31, 2017, restaurants would be required to include the previously posted contextual statement:

    "The average adult requires approximately 2,000 to 2,400 cals per day; however, individual calorie needs may vary."

  4. Clarifying the definition of "menu" to be any written means of communication that lists standard food items for sale.
  5. Clarifying that billboards, radio and television advertisements would be specifically exempted from the requirements of the Act and the menu labelling regulation
  6. Clarifying that the menu labelling requirements would only apply to online menus or menu applications, or for advertisements and promotional flyers that are distributed outside of regulated food service premises where they list a price for a standard food item and provide a method to place an order.
  7. Clarifying that the following standard food items would be exempt from the menu labelling requirements in the Act and the menu labelling regulation, if sold or offered for sale in grocery stores:
    • Deli meats and cheeses normally sold by weight and that are not part of another standard food item;
    • Flavoured bread, buns and rolls that are not part of another standard food item;
    • Prepared fruits and vegetables for a group of people (e.g. salads and fruit/vegetable trays); and
    • Olives and antipasti that are not part of another standard food item
  8. Exempting all standard food items in vending machines from the requirements of the Act and the menu labelling regulation.
  9. Requiring calories per serving and the serving size to be posted on a sign for each flavour/variety of standard food item that is displayed in bulk form. Calories would also be required to be posted on a sign for the options in a combination meal that are displayed in bulk form.  Bulk form means standard food items that are not portioned into their standard portion size.
  10. Specifying new requirements in relation to the contextual statement so that it would be required to be posted:
    • on every menu of a regulated food service premise, subject to limited exceptions, and must appear in close proximity to the standard food items; and
    • where customers order or serve themselves, and a menu containing the contextual statement is not readily visible, the contextual statement would be required to be posted on one or more signs

Members of the food and beverage industry may contact menulabelling@ontario.ca for more information.

Quotes

"Providing caloric information on menus is part of the government's plan to raise awareness and help families make healthier choices when dining out. I'm pleased that we're moving forward to strengthen Ontario's menu labelling regulation and encourage interested Ontarians to provide feedback."
- Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

"As more Ontarians enjoy dining outside the home, menu labelling will empower individuals and parents to make informed choices to better their health and that of their families. Our Association is pleased to see the Ontario government taking these next steps in collaboration with the business community to implement menu labelling and create an environment that values health for all."
- Ellen Wodchis, President, Ontario Public Health Association

"The Ontario Convenience Stores Association welcomes the government's commitment to transparency with regards to menu labelling in Ontario. As responsible community retailers, committed to the health and safety of the 2.7 million Ontarians that use our stores on a daily basis, our industry recognizes this as an important step in encouraging healthier lifestyles. The government has worked closely with our sector to add clarity to the regulation and I'm pleased that they're moving forward to post the proposed amendments publicly."
- Dave Bryans, CEO, Ontario Convenience Stores Association

"The Ontario government should be congratulated in leading efforts to bring menu calorie labelling to Ontario. Providing parents with more information on the amount of calories children need will help them and their children make healthier choices when eating out."
- Mary R. L'Abbé, PhD, Earle W. McHenry Professor and Chair, Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto

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