Have you heard about the Healthy Menu Choices Act? It is new legislation the government of Ontario passed to combat obesity and empower consumers to make healthier choices. The act states that foodservice operations with 20 or more locations within Ontario will need to display calorie counts directly on their menus. It goes into effect January 1, 2017, and may be the first of broader, nationwide regulations to come. It could also lead to increased consumer demand for healthier menu options and more transparent menu labeling.
Wading through the complete act and its related regulations is something every operator in Ontario should do. To help you wrap your arms around it, we’ve pulled out seven highlights.
The Healthy Menu Choices Act covers any restaurant-type food or drink item that:
There are some food and drink items that are exempt from this legislation. If you have specials that are on your menu for less than 90 days per calendar year, you don’t need to display calorie counts for them. You also won’t need to post calories for condiments not listed on the menu but available free of charge.
If your menu is available in multiple formats it is likely you will have to display calories on each version. Here are the known menu types that will require calorie counts:
Exempt from displaying calories are advertisements for limited-time offers, as long as they are not on the menu for more than 90 days per calendar year, or for advertisements that don’t include any prices. You also don’t have to share calories on billboards or in TV and radio ads.
The regulations are very detailed on this topic and can be quite complex if you have multiple flavour options or sizes. To summarize:
You have two options for handling food items that are meant to be shared with other people.
Optional flavours, varieties and sizes
For food items available in a number of flavours, varieties or sizes listed on a menu:
Food items that have optional additional toppings, sauces, dressings or condiments that are listed on the menu should be handled by:
For a menu that includes combination meals with two or more variable items:
Calories will need to be displayed for both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. To avoid showing calories for every alcoholic beverage, display the below table in the menu in a similar format, close to where alcoholic beverages are listed in your menu. The table must be visible when the menu is opened to any page that includes alcoholic beverages, in the same font, size and visibility as the alcoholic beverage items in your menu.
Starting January 1, 2018, you will need to display or include the below statement:
“Adults and youth (ages 13 and older) need an average of 2,000 calories a day, and children (ages 4 to 12) need an average of 1,500 calories a day. However, individual needs vary.”
This statement needs to be presented in one of two ways:
1. A sign or signs that are posted so they are easy to see and read by customers where they order food or drink or serve themselves or
2. In every menu on the premise
There are two methods that you can use to determine the number of calories in your menu items:
Testing by a laboratory that the owner or operator of the foodservice operation reasonably believes will provide accurate results or
Nutrient analysis method that the owner or operator of the foodservice operation reasonably believes will provide accurate estimates of the number of calories in the food items
The Gordon Food Service Canadian Nutrition Resource Centre has implementation guidelines available specific to different foodservice operations. We also have recipe management software you can use to determine the calorie counts of items on your menu. Contact the CNRC at email@example.com or 1-866-814-1272 for details.
This information was condensed from the Ontario Regulation 50/16 made under the Healthy Menu Choice Act, 2015. Read the full version.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and is no substitute for an actual attorney consultation. Always consult your attorney regarding your specific circumstances.
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