Canada: What's On The Menu? Regulations Under Menu Labelling Law Clarify Caloric Posting Requirements

The anticipated draft regulations under the newly passed Healthy Menu Choices Act (the Act) were released last month by the Ontario government. The draft regulations will support the implementation of the Act which will require restaurant chains and other food service providers with 20 or more locations operating under the same (or substantially the same) name in Ontario to make changes to the information they display on menus regarding standard food and drink items. 

The draft regulations are aimed at clarifying the requirements for caloric posting, including providing guidance on where caloric information must be posted, what constitutes a standard food item, certain prescribed statements that must be posted and possible exemptions. The draft regulations are based on consultations the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care undertook with key partners in the summer of 2015. The Ministry also sought additional public comments on the draft regulations that were due by October 26, 2015.

Overview of the Legislation

The Act received Royal Assent on May 28, 2015, but will not come into force until January 1, 2017. Once in force, the Act will require restaurant chains and other food service providers with 20 or more locations in Ontario operating under the same (or substantially the same) name to display the number of calories of all standard food or drink items on their menus. This includes not only quick-service restaurants, but also convenience stores, grocery stores and other businesses that sell meals prepared for immediate consumption, either on the premises or elsewhere.

The Act will require the display of the number of calories of each variety, flavour and size of food and drink items that are offered with standardized portions and content. The calorie content and prescribed information must be displayed on one or more signs, on each menu where the standard food item is listed and, if the standard food item is on display, on the food's label or tag.

We previously wrote about the requirements and potential impacts of the Act in an Osler Update in December 2014 and again in May 2015.

Specific Application to Franchisors

Franchisors should be aware that the Act defines a person who owns or operates a regulated food service premise as a "person who has responsibility for and control over the activities carried on at the regulated food service premise, and may include a franchisor, a licensor, a person who owns or operates a regulated food service premise through a subsidiary and a manager of a regulated food service premise, but does not include an employee who works at a regulated food service premise but is not a manager." While the draft regulations provide guidance on the obligations restaurant chains and other food service providers will have under the Act, they do not address the issue of franchisor liability for compliance by their franchisees.  Accordingly, as addressed in our previous Osler Updates, it remains too early to know with certainty how the Act will be applied to franchisors.  However, it appears that a franchisor's exposure to liability for compliance with the Act will likely be tied to the level of control (if any) it has over the activities carried on at the regulated food service premise.

Further Guidance on What Constitutes a "Standard Food Item"

Caloric content must be posted for all "standard food items," which is defined in the Act as a food or drink that is sold or offered for sale in servings that are standardized for portion and content. The draft regulations further require that the standard food item must be a "restaurant-type food or drink item," which is defined as a food or drink item that is either served in a regulated food service premise or processed and prepared primarily in a food service premise, and is intended for immediate consumption without further preparation by a consumer.

While the definition of "standard food item" remains fairly broad, the draft regulations provide for certain exemptions from what constitutes a "standard food item."  In particular, the following food or drink items are exempt from the definition of "standard food item":

  • food or drink items offered for sale for less than 90 days per calendar year (consecutively or non-consecutively)
  • self-serve condiments that are available free of charge and are not listed on the menu
  • food or drink items that are prepared specifically for inpatients of a hospital, private hospital or psychiatric facility, or residents of a long-term care home or retirement home
  • food or drink items that are prepared on an exceptional basis, in response to a specific customer request, and that deviate from the standard food items offered by the food service premise

Additional Clarity on Where Caloric Information Must be Posted

The Act requires the caloric content of each standard food item to be posted on all menus. The definition of "menu" is broad and includes drive-through menus, online menus, advertisements and promotional flyers. The draft regulations clarify the definition of "menu" by exempting online menus, menu applications, advertisements and promotional flyers if they do not list prices for standard food items, or if they do not list standard food items available for delivery or takeout.

The draft regulations also specify how calorie information is to be displayed on menus, including requirements for where calories are displayed and the size, format and prominence of the display. The draft regulations give additional guidance for standard food items that are intended to be shared among customers, that are available in a number of flavours, varieties or sizes, or that are offered with the option of adding standard supplementary items such as toppings. Specific instructions are also given for food service premises that offer food or drink items that customers serve for themselves and for food service premises that serve alcohol.

The draft regulations require that the number of calories in a standard food item be determined by either (a) testing in a laboratory or (b) a nutrient analysis method. The person who owns or operates the regulated food service premise must reasonably believe that the method will accurately estimate the number of calories in the standard food item.  As noted above, under the Act the person who owns or operates the regulated food service premise may include a franchisor.

Requirement to Post Contextual Statement

In addition to the posting of certain caloric and other information, the draft regulations require that restaurant chains and other food service premises post one or more signs at every regulated food service premise that contain the following information: "The average adult requires approximately 2,000 to 2,400 calories per day; however, individual needs may vary." Where the standard food items are targeted at children, the following alternative information may appear in place of the above statement: "The average child aged 4 to 9 years old requires approximately 1,200 to 2,000 calories per day, and the average child aged 10 to 13 years old requires approximately 1,500 to 2,600 calories per day; however, individual needs may vary."

At least one sign must be posted so that it is readily visible by, and legible to, every individual in the regulated food service premises where customers order food and drink. Restaurant chains and other food service premises can be exempted from this requirement if the contextual statement appears on every menu in the premise and is on every page of the menu, in close proximity to the standard food items listed, and in at least the same size and prominence as the name or price of the menu items.

Possible Exemptions

The draft regulations provide for certain exemptions to the application of Section 2 (Information to be Displayed) of the Act. In particular, restaurant chains and food service premises may be exempt from the obligations imposed by the Act if they operate for less than 60 days in a calendar year, or if they are located in a school, private school, correctional institution or childcare centre.


The Act will have a significant impact on a number of food service providers, including fast food restaurants, convenience stores, grocery stores, bakeries and coffee shops as well as entertainment venues like movie theatres, amusement parks and bowling alleys. Food service providers and franchisors should take action now to review their systems and develop an action plan for compliance with the Act and the draft regulations.

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.