What is menu labelling?
Menu labelling means providing nutrition information, specifically calories, for both food and drink items on the menu or menu board in restaurants and food service establishments.
Why menu labelling and why were calories added to the menu?
Menu labelling helps people make informed choices when dining out. It’s hard to know what’s in your restaurant meal; it may look healthy but it’s easy to underestimate the amount of calories and sodium. Many restaurant chains already provide nutrition information to customers who ask for it. Providing calories on menus helps customers make decisions right at the time of purchase without having to search websites or other brochures. Using calorie information can help you to make choices that are best for you and help you to meet your health goals.
Calorie needs are different for each person. It depends on your age, gender, your activity level and other health issues. This chart can be used as a general guideline when making menu choices. Talk to your health care provider to discuss individual calorie needs for you and your family.
What does this mean?
All restaurants within Ontario with 20 locations or more will be required to display the number of calories for all food and beverage items on their menus or menu boards. To help consumers better understand their choices, a statement about average daily calorie requirements will also be required. This applies to all food service establishments including grocery stores, fast food restaurants, and movie theatres.
What about other nutrition information?
A statement that helps customers figure out how many calories they should have per day will be posted on every menu or sign that is visible when customers order. Additional nutrient information such as fat, sodium, total carbohydrates, fibre, sugars, and protein will not be posted on the menu. Most foodservice premises have more detailed nutrition information online. Be sure to ask for it!
What about alcoholic beverages?
Many people don’t realize how many calories are in alcoholic beverages. There are calories from the alcohol itself, and for mixed drinks, there are calories from the mixes that may be added to the beverage. The calories in alcohol vary as there are many different serving sizes and different types of alcohol. One standard drink (one bottle of 5% beer, or one 5 oz glass of 12% wine, or 1 1/2 oz. of hard liquor) equals about 100 calories. Drinking alcohol can also lead to other health risks like heart disease and cancer. Follow Canada’s Low Risk Drinking Guidelines to help reduce your risk.
How can I make healthier choices when I am eating out?
Most restaurants have healthier options available. Fast Food Options: Tips for Making Healthy Choices can help you choose healthy choices on any menu. Top 10 Tips for Eating Out has some things you can ask for.
Are there any exclusions?
Day cares, schools, correctional institutes and any establishments that are open for 90 days or less such as farmers markets, are exempt from the regulation.
How will this be enforced?
Public Health Inspectors will be monitoring to ensure compliance.
For more information:
Menu Labelling Frequently Asked Questions – Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care