Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long Term Care recently announced amendments to the regulations (Regulations) under the Healthy Menu Choices Act, 2015 (Act), which, among other things, add new categories of items exempt from the Act’s labelling requirements. These amendments were made to clarify and provide further guidance on the Act. The Regulations have now been finalized and set out below are some of the changes to the Regulations.

The following items are now exempt from the Act’s labelling requirements: standard food items in a vending machine, and select food items sold at grocery stores (comprised of certain deli meats and cheeses that are normally sold by weight and are not part of another standard food item; prepared fruit and vegetables intended for multiple persons; flavoured bread, buns and rolls that are not part of another standard food item; and olives and antipasti that are not part of another standard food item).

The requirements related to the contextual statement have been updated. As of January 1, 2017, the contextual statement must state either: “The average adult requires approximately 2,000 to 2,400 calories per day; however, individual calorie needs may vary” or “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”. As of January 1, 2018, only the latter option (the more detailed version setting out both adult and child calorie requirements) may be used as the contextual statement. As a result, use of the latter statement as of January 1, 2017 will avoid the need to update the statement a year later. In either case, the Regulations also allow the use of a French version of the contextual statement.

Various other clarifications have been made to the Regulations. For example, the definition of menu has been updated to clarify that the “other means of communicating information that lists standard food items for sale” included in the definition of “menu” must be in writing. In addition, billboard, radio and television advertisements have been excluded from the definition of menu, and therefore calorie declarations are not required on such advertising. The exemption from calorie declarations for online menus and menu applications, advertisements and promotional flyers that do not list standard food items available for delivery or take-away ordering has been clarified to only apply if such medium does not provide a method for placing an order. The rounding rules for caloric declarations have also been revised for food items with five calories or less.

As of January 1, 2017, the 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 as Ontario’s new era of nutritional disclosure requirements begins. For more information about the new calorie disclosure requirements, see our September 2016 Blakes article: Let’s Eat: New Calorie Disclosure Requirements Coming to an Ontario Restaurant Near You. As with the Act, most of the recent amendments to the Regulations also come into effect January 1, 2017.