The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently finalized two rules requiring calorie information on menus and menu boards in restaurants and retail food establishments that are part of a chain of 20 or more locations, doing business under the same name, and offering substantially the same menu items. The FDA rules will also require establishments to provide, upon consumer request, written nutrition information about total calories, total fat, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars and protein. Restaurants and similar retail food establishments will have one year from the date of publication of the menu labeling final rule to comply with the requirements.
In Canada, the province of Ontario is moving forward with similar requirements. On February 24, 2014, the Liberal government introduced Bill 162 Making Healthier Choices Act, 2014. Like the FDA’s rules, Ontario’s proposed legislation will require restaurant chains and other food service providers with 20 or more locations operating under the same or substantially the same name in Ontario to display the number of calories of all standard food or drink items on their menus, menu boards, displays and on one or more signs. It is worth noting that the legislation specifically includes a franchisor of a restaurant chain or other food service provider in the definition of a "person who owns or operates a food service premise" that is caught by the legislation. While the manner in which the definition is drafted creates some uncertainty on this point, the inclusion of franchisor in the definition of "person who owns or operates a food service premise" may mean that both the franchisor and its franchisee could be found liable for failure to display the number of calories of all standard food or drink items on their menus, menu boards, displays and on one or more signs. Bill 162, is now at second reading stage.