Canada: Let's Eat: New Calorie Disclosure Requirements Coming To An Ontario Restaurant Near You

Big changes are coming to Ontario's restaurant landscape. As of January 1, 2017, the Healthy Menu Choices Act (Act) will require food service chains with 20 or more locations in Ontario to disclose calorie information for most standard food and drink items on menus, labels, tags and signage. The changes will require many in the food service sector to implement significant changes to update their current signage and menus. The Act is intended to help Ontario residents make healthier food and beverage choices while dining out and to raise public awareness of the calorie content of food items.


Once in force, the Act will require every person who owns or operates a "regulated food service premise" to display calorie information for each standardized food and drink item offered for sale at the premise. The calorie content must generally be displayed on each menu where a food or drink item is listed or depicted, as well as on the label or tag where the item is put on display. The regulations also set out detailed requirements on how the calorie information must be displayed, including with respect to placement, size and prominence.

The Act applies to restaurant-type food and drink items that are offered for sale in standardized portions and are ready for immediate consumption with no further preparation. The Act exempts the following items from the labelling requirements: custom orders; self-serve condiments available for free that are not listed on the menu; hospital food; and food or drink items offered for sale for less than 90 days per calendar year. Partial exemptions also exist for alcoholic beverages as well as standardized food items on display that are already labelled with a nutrition facts table. In addition, food service premises that operate for less than 60 days per year and food service premises located in a school, correctional facility or a child care centre are exempt from the menu labelling legislation.

The Act also requires owners and operators to display a specific contextual statement (i.e. information relating to the average number of calories required for a typical person per day) on menus or on a sign that is visible and legible to customers when making their order selections. Like the calorie disclosures, the contextual statement is also subject to requirements relating to placement, size and prominence. In particular, the contextual statement must contain the following information: "The average adult requires approximately 2,000 to 2,400 calories per day; however, individual calorie needs may vary". If the regulated food service premise sells standard food items for children, then a corresponding statement for children may also be required.

The Act requires that the number of calories in a standard food item be determined by either laboratory testing or a nutrient analysis method, in either case, which the person who owns or operates the regulated food service premises reasonably believes will provide an accurate calorie count.

In addition to on-site requirements, the Act may also capture materials that are distributed outside of food service premises. In particular, "menu" is currently defined to include a document or other means of communicating information that lists standard food items offered for sale, including: an electronic menu, a menu board, a drive-thru menu, an online menu or a menu application, an advertisement and a promotional flyer. Online menus and menu applications, advertisements and promotional flyers are exempt from the requirements only if they satisfy one of the following criteria: they do not list prices for standard food items, or they do not list standard food items that are available for delivery or takeaway ordering.

As a result, certain advertisements and promotional flyers that are circulated outside of the food service premise may be required to comply with the Act. For example, direct mail or online advertisements that display prices for standard food items that are available for delivery or takeaway ordering would need to provide appropriate calorie information.

Ontario will be the first Canadian jurisdiction to bring mandatory calorie labelling laws into effect. British Columbia has a voluntary nutrition information program for restaurants known as the Informed Dining program, which was introduced in 2011. 


A "regulated food service premise" is a premise where meals are prepared, sold or served for immediate consumption and that is part of a chain with 20 or more locations in Ontario that operate under the same or substantially the same name, regardless of ownership. The types of establishments captured could include restaurants (including quick service restaurants), grocery stores, convenience stores, movie theatres, amusement parks, food trucks, bakeries, buffets and ice cream and coffee shops where standard food items are served.

The Act also specifies that a person who owns or operates a regulated food service premise means a person who has responsibility for, and control over, the activities carried on at a regulated food service premise, and may include a franchisor, a licensor, a person who owns or operates the premise through a subsidiary and a manager of the premise. As a result, both franchisors and franchisees may be caught by this legislation.


It is worth noting that the Act's original draft specifically included franchisors and licensors within the definition of a person who "owns and operates" a regulated food premise. Both the Ontario Bar Association's Franchise Law Section (in a submission dated April 7, 2015 to Ontario's Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care) and the Canadian Franchise Association (in a submission dated April 22, 2015 to the Standing Committee on General Government) advocated to have this definition amended on the basis that it was not reflective of the franchise business model in which the franchisee is an independent contractor responsible for the day-to-day operations of their business in compliance with all applicable laws. Under the original definition, franchisors may have unfairly been liable for a franchise failing to comply with the Act in a circumstance where the franchisor did not supply the food items being served and had limited control over the operations of the franchise. The Act's proposed application to licensors was also problematic as licensors do not typically exert any control over licensees' method of operation other than controls relating to the protection of the licensed marks. The Act's final version includes a more fact-based determination of who has actual responsibility for, and control over, the activities of the premise. In the result, a franchisor's potential liability for non-compliance with the Act at the franchise level will likely be determined by the degree of control exercised by the franchisor over the franchisee's operations.


On July 21, 2016, the Ontario government posted proposed amendments to clarify and provide guidance on portions of the regulations under the Act. These proposed amendments would, among other things:

  • Add a definition for "grocery store" and exempt certain food items sold at grocery stores from the Act (e.g., deli meats and cheeses, prepared fruit and vegetables intended for multiple persons, flavoured bread, buns and rolls, and olives and antipasti)
  • Revise the definition of "menu" to specifically exempt billboard, radio and TV advertisements from menu labelling requirements
  • Exempt standard food items in a vending machine from the requirement to post calories
  • Revise the requirements relating to the contextual statement and incorporate additional changes that would come into effect on January 1, 2018 (in particular, the content of the contextual statement would be slightly different and contain a mandatory child component from 2018 onwards)

It remains to be seen whether the Ontario government will implement some or all of these proposals before the January 1, 2017 coming into force date for the Act. In any event, businesses impacted by the Act will need to finalize their compliance preparation over the next few months. New signage and menus may entail significant costs, but might also provide an opportunity for refreshing an establishment's signage and branding. It should also be noted that the Act provides the Lieutenant Governor in Council with regulation-making authority to require additional information about standard food items to be displayed at a later time, so the calorie disclosure requirements that come into effect on January 1, 2017 may be only the beginning of a new era of nutritional disclosure in Ontario.

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.

Events from this Firm
13 Dec 2017, Seminar, Toronto, Canada

Class actions across Canada continue to grow in volume and complexity, triggering significant policy and financial implications for businesses in Canada. With the Law Commission of Ontario’s recent announcement that it is reactivating its comprehensive review of class actions in Ontario, we may see important law reform on the horizon to evolve with the changing landscape.

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
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 you may opt out by clicking here

    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.

    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.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    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.

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