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The Table Is Set: Ontario’s Healthy Menu Choices Act Regulations

Published: 11/28/2016

By Larry M. Weinberg, Frank Robinson, Noah Leszcz

On January 1, 2017, the Healthy Menu Choices Act (the Act) comes into force in Ontario, obligating food service chains with 20 or more locations in Ontario to post caloric content for most food and drink items. We published articles on the Act in April 2016, October 2015, and May 2015, discussing the contents, requirements, and exemptions under the Act and its accompanying regulations. Recently, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care amended and finalized the regulations.

The Act applies to regulated food service premises (RFSPs) with 20 or more locations. RFSPs are defined as any food premise where meals or meal portions are prepared for immediate consumption or sold or served in a form that will permit immediate consumption on the premises or elsewhere. The finalized regulations clarify what types of food premises are required to comply with the Act, including two new exemptions:

  1. Standard food items sold in vending machines are not subject to the Act.
  2. Grocery stores are exempt from the requirement to post caloric content on the following types of food items:

a. Deli meats and cheeses that are normally sold by weight and that are not part of another standard food item
b. Prepared fruit and vegetables intended for multiple persons
c. Flavoured bread, buns and rolls that are not part of another standard food item
d. Olives and antipasti that are not part of another standard food item

The finalized regulations also amended its definition of menu, excluding billboard, radio, and television advertisements from that definition and therefore from the requirement to post caloric content. Also, as a result of the new definition of menu, online menus, menu applications, advertisements and promotional flyers are exempt from the requirement to post caloric content if: (i) they do not list prices for standard food items, (ii) they do not list standard food items that a person can order for delivery or takeaway ordering and do not provide a method to place an order.

Further, a more detailed contextual statement has been added to the regulations for implementation in 2018. As of January 1, 2017, the less detailed statement may read: “The average adult requires approximately 2,000 to 2,400 calories per day; however, individual calorie needs may vary” in English or “L’adulte moyen a besoin d’environ 2 000 à 2 400 calories par jour; cependant, les besoins individuels en calories peuvent varier” in French.

As of January 1, 2018, the more detailed statement will be required. The statement must read: “Adults and youth (ages 13 and older) need an average of 2,000 calories a day, and children (ages 4 to 12) need an average of 1,500 calories a day. However, individual needs vary” in English or “Les adultes et les jeunes (13 ans et plus) ont besoin, en moyenne, de 2 000 calories par jour et les enfants (4 à 12 ans) ont besoin, en moyenne, de 1 500 calories par jour. Cependant, les besoins individuels varient” in French.

It should be noted that the more detailed contextual statement that will be required in 2018 is permissible for use in 2017.

If you have any questions about the Act or the accompanying regulations, please contact Larry Weinberg, Frank Robinson or Noah Leszcz at Cassels Brock.