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.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP
Related Articles
Related Video
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
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

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 or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq 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 of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions