November 3, 2017
As we previously reported, the Healthy Menu Choices Act, 2015 came into force on January 1, 2017. The Act stipulates that owners of food service premises that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations in Ontario must display prescribed calorie information for every standard food and beverage item that is listed on a menu (whether printed or electronic) or in an advertisement, subject to certain exceptions. Further, the Act also stipulates the inclusion of a prescribed contextual statement (which outlines average calorie intake requirements) on these same menus and advertisements, subject to certain exceptions.
Further to the Practice Points we previously provided, it is important to note that the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has recently updated its list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding compliance with the Act. What follows are some of these new FAQs (which we have paraphrased), which we hope they will be helpful in this regard.
- Are premises that are independently owned exempt from the legislation?
Pursuant to the Act, ownership structure is not a determining factor to consider whether or not a food service premise falls within the ambit of the Act. Rather, the determining factors are whether the applicable food service premise: (a) is part of a chain of 20 or more food service premises in Ontario that operate under the same or substantially the same name; and (b) and sell the same or substantially the same standard food items.
- If a company issues coupons for the food and beverage industry that are distributed in Ontario through print and digital advertising, are calories required on the coupons issued to promote select menu items?
For the purpose of this answer, it is assumed that the coupons apply to, and are distributed outside of, a regulated food service premise. Subject to this assumption, the coupon must include calorie disclosure if the coupon lists prices for standard food items, and provides a method to order listed standard food items for takeaway or delivery.
- Do calories need to be in the same color as the name or the price of the item?
The Act and its regulations does not specify colour requirements. Rather, calories for standard food items must be displayed in the same font and format as, and at least the same size and prominence as, the name or price of the standard food item.
- What is the date for completion of inspections of all food premises that fall under the Act?
Inspectors are required to conduct an inspection for each new and existing regulated food service premises by December 31, 2017.
As we previously note, it is important to note that particular care must be taken to assess the particulars of any given situation against the requirements of the Act, as many of its provisions are very prescriptive and often intertwine. Further, it is important to maintain vigilant compliance with the Act’s requirements in light of inspections that are scheduled to take place this year.
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