On January 1, 2017, the Healthy Menu Choices Act, 2015 came into effect in Ontario. The Act will help families make more informed food choices when eating in a restaurant or purchasing take-away meals. It will also help to raise public awareness about the calorie content of food and beverages eaten outside the home.
This Act will:
- Require large food chain premises to post calories for standard food and beverage items, including alcohol on menus and menu boards.
- Apply to all food premises where food is available for immediate consumption such as convenience stores, movie theatres, grocery stores, and restaurants with 20 locations or more in Ontario.
- Failure to comply may lead to a fine.
- Require food service operators to post contextual information that would help to educate patrons about their daily caloric requirements.
- Authorize public health inspectors to enforce menu labelling requirements.
Useful tools and resources:
For more information, please visit the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care website.
Determining Calorie Information
How may I determine caloric values for standard menu items?
It is the companies' responsibility to make sure that the nutrient values are accurate. Most large food service companies will have support from corporate offices to determine the appropriate methods to comply with the legislation.
There are different ways to determine calorie values of food items such as laboratory analysis, nutrition analysis software or credible databases. According to the Healthy Menu Choices Act and regulations, this is to be done by either:
1. Testing by a laboratory - The Standards Council of Canada (SCC) provides a list of accredited laboratories that owners/operators can contact to discuss nutritional analysis needs. A list of approved laboratories will not be created or supplied by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care or local health units.
2. A nutrient analysis method that will provide accurate results. The following provides some guidance:
- Use of Nutrition Facts Table on packaged foods that comply with the nutrition labelling requirements of the Food and Drug Regulations.
- Nutrient information from cookbooks or supplier information, as long as the values in the cookbook were derived from a nutrient analysis method or laboratory analysis.
- Health Canada guide for determining accurate nutrition information of food and beverage items.
- Health Canada Nutrient Values of Some Common Foods to determine caloric values for common food ingredients.
- Health Canada Canadian Nutrient File containing common nutrient values for common foods in Canada. You can search by food item.
- Guidance about selecting nutrient analysis software.
Additional Resources and Tools