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  • Writer's pictureFroese Law

Branding Your Menu

Are you a restaurant, convenience or take-out store with 20 or more locations in Ontario? If you have less than 20 locations, are you eagerly hoping to expand your food service business in Ontario? Do you sell food or drinks for your customers to devour immediately or once they arrive in the comfort of their homes?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be legally required to display calorie information about the products you sell. Read on to get an overview of your requirements and how to comply (and avoid being fined!).

What is the Healthy Menu Choices Act?

As its name suggests, the Healthy Menu Choices Act aims to give consumers the opportunity to make informed (and ideally healthier) choices about the food and drink they purchase. Under the Act, any “food service premise” with 20 or more locations in Ontario has to display calorie information on all of their menus and where the food or drink is on display.

Am I a “food service premise”?

  • You are a “food service premise” if you prepare or serve food or drinks for your customers to consume immediately (either on your premise or elsewhere) without any additional prep required by the customer.

What do I need to do?

  • You have to display the number of calories for every variety, flavour and size of “standard food items” that you sell. A “standard food item” is food or drink (i) sold in standardized portions, (ii) served and primarily prepared in your locations, and (iii) intended to be consumed immediately.

  • You have to display calorie information on all menus where the standard food item is listed AND on a label or tag identifying the item where it’s on display.

  • You have to display on all menus a statement outlining the average daily calorie intake (the Act’s Regulations dictate the exact language you have to use).

What happens if I don’t comply?

  • Every individual who doesn’t comply with the Act is at risk of a $500 fine for every day they don’t comply for a first offence, and $1,000 for further offences. Corporations can be fined up to $5,000 a day for a first offence and up to $10,000 for further offences.

What if my brand is against posting calories?

  • Balancing your brand and your legal requirements can be tricky. But, at the end of the day, food service providers have to comply with the Act or risk being fined by the Ontario government and being left behind in the growing trend of being transparent about nutritional information.

Whether you already have 20 or more locations in Ontario, or you are growing and expanding food service provider, it is important to know, understand and comply with your legal requirements. If you have any questions about your requirements under the Act, or your other labelling requirements (of which there are many!), contact us for more information and advice.

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