In a recent announcement, the Government of Ontario unveiled its
plan to introduce legislation this winter aimed at curbing obesity
by requiring restaurant chains to include nutritional information
on menus. The government expects that the immediate presence of
nutritional information at certain restaurants will assist
Ontarians in making healthy choices.
Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews, who announced the
forthcoming legislation to the media on October 9, 2013, stated
that the new legislation will focus on large restaurant chains, and
will not capture small independent restaurants. However, specifics
regarding which restaurants will be subject to the new law, and
what information must be displayed to consumers under it, will only
be determined after a consultation process. The Government of
Ontario has indicated that the consultation process will include
discussions with the public, experts, and various stakeholders in
the food services industry.
Consultations will also include a discussion with the media and
telecommunications industries of how to limit the marketing of
unhealthy food and beverages to children. However, no legislation
has been announced regarding this latter initiative.
If the law is adopted, it will be the first law of its kind in
Canada. Organizations operating in the food services industry
should keep an eye on the progress of this legislation to determine
whether they will be affected by it. Those organizations captured
by the new legislation will likely be obligated to implement
measures to determine the nutritional information of food and
beverages served in addition to redesigning customer menus.
The proposed legislation faces opposition from the Canadian
Restaurant and Foodservices Association, which represents a large
number of food services corporations. The Association instead
believes that voluntary compliance with its Informed Dining program
will be more effective. The Informed Dining program, which requires
volunteer participants to display of nutritional information in a
consistent format, was developed by the Government of British
Columbia in cooperation with industry, and has been adopted by
British Columbia and Manitoba.
The official Ontario press release is available here.
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