Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Deb Matthews
Ontario will introduce legislation today to make it easier for families to make informed and healthy food choices.
The Making Healthier Choices Act, if passed, would make Ontario the first province to require food service premises to post calories on menus.
The proposed legislation was developed following consultations with the food industry, health sector and parents. Specific measures in the legislation include:
- Requiring calories for food and beverages, including alcohol, to be posted on menus and menu boards in restaurants, convenience stores, grocery stores and other food service premises with 20 or more locations in Ontario.
- Requiring food service operators to post a contextual statement that would help to educate patrons about their daily caloric requirements.
- Authorizing public health inspectors to enforce menu labelling requirements.
This initiative builds on other steps Ontario is taking to help families live healthier, including the Healthy Kids Community Challenge - a province-wide initiative encouraging community leaders along with private and public sector partners to come together and develop initiatives to help kids stay healthy and active.
Making it easier for Ontario families to choose healthy foods is a key component of the Healthy Kids Strategy and supports Ontario's Action Plan for Health Care.
It is also part of the government's economic plan that is creating jobs for today and tomorrow by focusing
- Up to 60 per cent of large chain restaurants with more than 20 locations in Ontario already provide nutritional information voluntarily to their customers (upon demand, on websites or in store).
- Approximately 95 per cent of Ontarians support requiring fast food restaurants to list nutrition information on their menus (Ipsos Reid, 2011).
- Ontario is also protecting children from the harmful effects of second hand smoke by proposing to increase penalties for selling tobacco to kids, banning flavoured tobacco and banning smoking on playgrounds, sports fields and bar and restaurant patios.
"We know that parents want more support to help keep their kids healthy. That’s why this new legislation will give parents and their kids the information they need to make healthy choices. I want to commend our health care and industry partners for providing their input into this important initiative to improve kids’ health."
— Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
"We know that many of our customers are seeking more nutritional information, and while many restaurants do provide this information, Ontario is now joining other jurisdictions in North America by introducing legislation requiring menu labelling. Although our members prefer a national approach, with many municipalities such as the City of Toronto preparing to regulate menu labelling, the potential for a patchwork of policy models across Ontario would have dire consequences for our industry. That’s why we are pleased to see that the provincial government has heard our concerns and will ensure their legislation supersedes any municipal bylaws."
— Tony Elenis, President and CEO, Ontario Restaurant, Hotel and Motel Association
"The Heart and Stroke Foundation commends the Government of Ontario for introducing mandatory menu labelling. With today’s busy lives and vast array of food choices, it’s crucial to provide everyone with the ability to make well-informed decisions about the food we eat and feed our children. This important initiative will go a long way in empowering Ontarians to make healthy choices when dining out or purchasing prepared food. Eating well is absolutely one of the best investments Ontarians can make to decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke."
— Mark Holland, Director of Health Promotion and Children and Youth, Heart and Stroke Foundation
"We are pleased to see the Government of Ontario take a positive step forward in helping Ontarians make healthier food choices. The more nutritional information people with diabetes have the more empowered they are to make the choices that are right for them and their families."
— J. Richard Blickstead, President and CEO, Canadian Diabetes Association