Canada: Let's Eat: New Calorie Disclosure Requirements Coming To An Ontario Restaurant Near You

Last Updated: September 28 2016
Article by Laura Weinrib, Pei Li and David Shaw

Big changes are coming to Ontario's restaurant landscape. As of January 1, 2017, the Healthy Menu Choices Act (Act) will require food service chains with 20 or more locations in Ontario to disclose calorie information for most standard food and drink items on menus, labels, tags and signage. The changes will require many in the food service sector to implement significant changes to update their current signage and menus. The Act is intended to help Ontario residents make healthier food and beverage choices while dining out and to raise public awareness of the calorie content of food items.


Once in force, the Act will require every person who owns or operates a "regulated food service premise" to display calorie information for each standardized food and drink item offered for sale at the premise. The calorie content must generally be displayed on each menu where a food or drink item is listed or depicted, as well as on the label or tag where the item is put on display. The regulations also set out detailed requirements on how the calorie information must be displayed, including with respect to placement, size and prominence.

The Act applies to restaurant-type food and drink items that are offered for sale in standardized portions and are ready for immediate consumption with no further preparation. The Act exempts the following items from the labelling requirements: custom orders; self-serve condiments available for free that are not listed on the menu; hospital food; and food or drink items offered for sale for less than 90 days per calendar year. Partial exemptions also exist for alcoholic beverages as well as standardized food items on display that are already labelled with a nutrition facts table. In addition, food service premises that operate for less than 60 days per year and food service premises located in a school, correctional facility or a child care centre are exempt from the menu labelling legislation.

The Act also requires owners and operators to display a specific contextual statement (i.e. information relating to the average number of calories required for a typical person per day) on menus or on a sign that is visible and legible to customers when making their order selections. Like the calorie disclosures, the contextual statement is also subject to requirements relating to placement, size and prominence. In particular, the contextual statement must contain the following information: "The average adult requires approximately 2,000 to 2,400 calories per day; however, individual calorie needs may vary". If the regulated food service premise sells standard food items for children, then a corresponding statement for children may also be required.

The Act requires that the number of calories in a standard food item be determined by either laboratory testing or a nutrient analysis method, in either case, which the person who owns or operates the regulated food service premises reasonably believes will provide an accurate calorie count.

In addition to on-site requirements, the Act may also capture materials that are distributed outside of food service premises. In particular, "menu" is currently defined to include a document or other means of communicating information that lists standard food items offered for sale, including: an electronic menu, a menu board, a drive-thru menu, an online menu or a menu application, an advertisement and a promotional flyer. Online menus and menu applications, advertisements and promotional flyers are exempt from the requirements only if they satisfy one of the following criteria: they do not list prices for standard food items, or they do not list standard food items that are available for delivery or takeaway ordering.

As a result, certain advertisements and promotional flyers that are circulated outside of the food service premise may be required to comply with the Act. For example, direct mail or online advertisements that display prices for standard food items that are available for delivery or takeaway ordering would need to provide appropriate calorie information.

Ontario will be the first Canadian jurisdiction to bring mandatory calorie labelling laws into effect. British Columbia has a voluntary nutrition information program for restaurants known as the Informed Dining program, which was introduced in 2011. 


A "regulated food service premise" is a premise where meals are prepared, sold or served for immediate consumption and that is part of a chain with 20 or more locations in Ontario that operate under the same or substantially the same name, regardless of ownership. The types of establishments captured could include restaurants (including quick service restaurants), grocery stores, convenience stores, movie theatres, amusement parks, food trucks, bakeries, buffets and ice cream and coffee shops where standard food items are served.

The Act also specifies that a person who owns or operates a regulated food service premise means a person who has responsibility for, and control over, the activities carried on at a regulated food service premise, and may include a franchisor, a licensor, a person who owns or operates the premise through a subsidiary and a manager of the premise. As a result, both franchisors and franchisees may be caught by this legislation.


It is worth noting that the Act's original draft specifically included franchisors and licensors within the definition of a person who "owns and operates" a regulated food premise. Both the Ontario Bar Association's Franchise Law Section (in a submission dated April 7, 2015 to Ontario's Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care) and the Canadian Franchise Association (in a submission dated April 22, 2015 to the Standing Committee on General Government) advocated to have this definition amended on the basis that it was not reflective of the franchise business model in which the franchisee is an independent contractor responsible for the day-to-day operations of their business in compliance with all applicable laws. Under the original definition, franchisors may have unfairly been liable for a franchise failing to comply with the Act in a circumstance where the franchisor did not supply the food items being served and had limited control over the operations of the franchise. The Act's proposed application to licensors was also problematic as licensors do not typically exert any control over licensees' method of operation other than controls relating to the protection of the licensed marks. The Act's final version includes a more fact-based determination of who has actual responsibility for, and control over, the activities of the premise. In the result, a franchisor's potential liability for non-compliance with the Act at the franchise level will likely be determined by the degree of control exercised by the franchisor over the franchisee's operations.


On July 21, 2016, the Ontario government posted proposed amendments to clarify and provide guidance on portions of the regulations under the Act. These proposed amendments would, among other things:

  • Add a definition for "grocery store" and exempt certain food items sold at grocery stores from the Act (e.g., deli meats and cheeses, prepared fruit and vegetables intended for multiple persons, flavoured bread, buns and rolls, and olives and antipasti)
  • Revise the definition of "menu" to specifically exempt billboard, radio and TV advertisements from menu labelling requirements
  • Exempt standard food items in a vending machine from the requirement to post calories
  • Revise the requirements relating to the contextual statement and incorporate additional changes that would come into effect on January 1, 2018 (in particular, the content of the contextual statement would be slightly different and contain a mandatory child component from 2018 onwards)

It remains to be seen whether the Ontario government will implement some or all of these proposals before the January 1, 2017 coming into force date for the Act. In any event, businesses impacted by the Act will need to finalize their compliance preparation over the next few months. New signage and menus may entail significant costs, but might also provide an opportunity for refreshing an establishment's signage and branding. It should also be noted that the Act provides the Lieutenant Governor in Council with regulation-making authority to require additional information about standard food items to be displayed at a later time, so the calorie disclosure requirements that come into effect on January 1, 2017 may be only the beginning of a new era of nutritional disclosure in Ontario.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Events from this Firm
30 Oct 2019, Other, Toronto, Canada

The materials on the Blakes Business Class website are provided for informational purposes only. Accessing this information does not create a lawyer-client relationship.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions