Ontario has become the first Canadian jurisdiction to put menu labeling laws in place.

The Ontario Healthy Menu Choices Act, 2015 and its regulation become effective  January 1, 2017. The Act, which received Royal Assent in May 2015, sets out the parameters for menu labeling when a food establishment has 20 or more food service premises in Ontario.

By January 1, 2017, “restaurant chains” covered by this legislation will be required to provide their customers with specific calorie information, in a concise and accessible manner, for most food and drink to be consumed or taken away, so that these customers can make informed and, ideally, more healthy decisions.

This legislation addresses any form of menu or advertising that sets out standard food items and their prices, meaning that menus will likely need to be reprinted or revised to add this information; thereafter, whenever menus are altered or updated, these menus will also require revisions to reflect these requirements. In addition, food establishments will also have to incur the costs to ascertain the number of calories in their standard food items.

The Act contains the majority of the relevant definitions, describes information that must be displayed, provides for inspection procedures and sets out enforcement measures when the law is contravened. The Regulation adds a few additional definitions, but primarily specifies how and where the information is to be displayed, provides for some exemptions and prescribes how calorie information is to be determined.

Find out more about the proposed Ontario regime for franchisors and franchisees.