Menu Labelling Requirements

Effective January 1st, 2017, the Healthy Menu Choices Act, 2015  and its accompanying regulation require food service premises with 20 or more locations in Ontario to display calories on menus for standard food items. Requiring the display of calories on menus will provide customers with information to help them make well-informed choices about what they eat and feed their children when dining out.

 

Specifically, the law will require food service premises to:

  1. Display the number of calories for every standard food item and self-serve item, on menus (including menu boards), labels and display tags

  2. Display contextual information to help educate customers about their daily caloric requirements. 

A guide has been developed to support regulated food service premises to implement the Healthy Menu Choices Act, 2015 and its regulation (Ontario Regulation 50/16). A Guide to Menu Labelling Requirements in Regulated Food Service Premises in Ontario and Frequent Asked Questions was shared with stakeholders in May, 2016. Posting of amendments to the Regulation made under the Healthy Menu Choices Act, 2015. The Regulation is finalized and can be found on e-laws.

Legislation Overview:
 

  • Legislation will be calories only

  • Legislation will require posting of calories for alcoholic beverages. 

  • Threshold 20 units provincially based with same brand name will include: restaurants, grocery, movie theatres, corner stores, hospital and government / school cafeterias. 

  • Legislation will mitigate municipal bylaws including City of Toronto Act as a deal was made with City and MOHLTC.          

  • Contextual Statement regarding “daily caloric intake” will be required on menu boards and or menus to educate patrons about their daily food requirements, including how the average adult requires 2,000 calories a day. 

  • Authorizing public health inspectors to enforce menu labelling requirements.

  • No requirement to provide additional nutrition information – voluntary to provide a nutritional pamphlet / brochure. 

 

 

 ORHMA advocated for the following on behalf of industry:
 

  • posting of calories only

  • exempt the sodium posting requirement

  • applicable to standard menu items only and not limited time items

  • include: grocers, convenience stores, movie theatres to ensure fairness for industry

  • exemption for independent operators

  • a threshold requirement of 20 or more restaurants

  • provincial policy to supersede any municipal bylaws

  • exempt hotels

  • exempt beverage alcohol from posting calories

 

Front-of-Package Nutrition Labelling

 

 front-of-package nutrition symbol is required on foods that are high in one or more of these nutrients:

The food industry has been given until January 1, 2026 to make this change. 

Foods that must have a front-of-package nutrition symbol: 

The front-of-package nutrition symbol is mandatory for prepackaged foods that meet or exceed set levels for sodium, sugars or saturated fat.

Some foods do not need to display a nutrition symbol. These include:

  • foods exempt for technical reasons, such as:

    • packaged individual portions that are only intended to be served by a restaurant or other commercial enterprise to accompany meals or snacks (for example, individually portioned crackers served with soup or creamers served with a cup of coffee)

    • milk and cream sold in refillable glass containers

    • foods in very small packages

    • raw, single ingredient whole cuts of meat, poultry and fish that do not carry a nutrition facts table

  • foods with a protective effect on health, such as fruits and vegetables without added sodium, sugars, or saturated fat

  • certain dairy products, such as plain milk, plain yogurt and cheese because they are important sources of calcium that is needed to promote bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis

  • raw, single ingredient ground meats and poultry to avoid giving the impression that they are nutritionally inferior to whole cuts that do not carry a nutrition symbol

  • butter, sugar, salt and other products used for the same purpose as butter, sugar or salt, such as:

    • honey

    • celery salt

    • maple syrup

    • vegetable oils

    • seasoning salt