On February 24, 2014, Deborah Matthews, Ontario Minister of
Health and Long-Term Care, introduced Bill 162, the Making
Healthier Choices Act, 2014. This proposed legislation is
intended to increase awareness of calorie content at the point of
sale, and as such, encourage Ontarians to make healthier meal
Scope of the Proposed Legislation
The proposed legislation would apply to any food service
establishment that prepares or serves meals or meal portions in a
form that can be consumed immediately and operates 20 or more
establishments in Ontario under the same or substantially the same
name. Together, these requirements would capture a diverse spectrum
of food service establishments, including chain restaurants,
fast-food outlets, grocery stores, and convenience
Establishments that meet the above criteria would be required to
post the calorie content of:
each standardized portion of food or drink directly on the
any food item on display on an identifying tag or label;
any standardized combination of food or drink items directly on
Under the proposed legislation, failure to comply with the
labelling requirements would be a provincial offence punishable by
fines of up to $1,000 per day for individuals, and up to $10,000
per day for corporations.3
There is also a private member's bill that would require
similar labelling of calorie content on the menus of certain
establishments. Notable differences from the Ontario Government
changing the requirement for food service establishments from
20 to 5 locations in Ontario;
adding a minimum of $5 million in gross annual revenue before
the posting of calorie content is required; and
adding a requirement to indicate items that have high or very
high sodium content.
It remains to be seen whether these alternative proposals will
be incorporated into Bill 162. As Bill 162 has yet to pass second
reading or be referred to a committee, addressing this alternative
proposal may be necessary to gain sufficient support in
New Food Nutrition Labels, Canada Begins Consulting
Health Canada Begins Consultation
On the heels of the proposed changes by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration to the "Nutrition Facts Label" found on
most food packages in the U.S., on January 28, 2014, Health Canada
launched a public consultation on ways to improve nutrition
labelling in Canada.4 It remains to be seen whether the
thrust of the consultation will result in changes that resemble
those proposed in the U.S.—adjusting serving size to more
closely match real-world behavior, updating the "daily
values" for certain nutrients, and drawing consumer attention
to "added sugars" in addition to total sugar content. The
information from the consultation on changes to nutrition labels
will be used to develop recommendations which will then be subject
to a further round of consultation. As yet, there is no published
timeline on when changes to nutrition labels will be proposed or
* With assistance from Albert Chan, Articling Student.
1. The proposed legislation would also impose liability
on franchisors, licensors, and managers of individual
establishments, as well as on directors and officers of
corporations which operate qualifying establishments.
2. The proposed legislation also allows for the creation
of regulations which may require additional nutritional information
to be posted; for example, fat or sodium content.
3. Public health inspectors would be empowered to enforce
the proposed legislation.
4. The public comment form, available online at the
Health Canada website, does not mention specific proposals, but
rather invites consumers to comment on what features they find
helpful or confusing on current nutrition labels.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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