Ontario legislation to overhaul in-store calorie advertising
There are some sweeping new food and beverage disclosure
requirements coming into play for the food industry in Ontario. The
Healthy Menu Choices Act, will come into force on
January 1, 2017, and will require food service providers with 20 or
more locations in Ontario to display the calories in food and
beverage items. These disclosures will need appear in multiple
locations, and there are very specific formatting requirements
associated with these disclosures. Compliance with these
requirements could apply both to franchisees/licensees as well as
their franchisers/licensors, depending on each party's level of
control over menus.
The number of calories in each standard food or beverage will
need to be displayed on menus (including take away menus, with some
exceptions) and in-store display items. These requirements only
apply to standard items intended for immediate consumption without
further preparation. The calorie disclosure must be made for each
variety, flavour and size of the same/similar item, as well as to
any combination meals depicted or listed for sale. These changes
may require significant revising of existing menus, particularly
where your restaurant offers a combination meal with multiple sizes
of beverages or sides.
In addition to the menu and tag calorie disclosures, each
location will need to post one or more signs with a nutritional
statement setting out the approximate total daily calories
recommended (for children and adults). Here is a sample: "The
average adult requires approximately 2,000 to 2,400 calories per
day; however, individual needs may vary."
These changes will come with significant costs. Businesses
should prepare accordingly for revisions to menus, in-store
displays and signage. For some products, the highlighting of
calories could also necessitate product re-formulation. While these
regulatory updates will need to be budgeted for, consider aligning
them with other business interests. If your business is also due
for an overall branding renovation, consider using the new
regulatory requirements as an perfect excuse to bump this up on the
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