In February 2014, the Ontario government introduced Bill 59 Healthy Decisions for Healthy Eating Act (the “Bill”) that, if passed, would have required all persons who own or operate a food service premise that has a minimum of five locations in Ontario and gross revenue of over $5 million to post calorie and sodium content for each item on their menus/menu boards in the same typeface and font size that is used to list the price. The Bill specifically included a franchisor as a person who owns or operates a food service premise.
Under the Bill, food service premise owners or operators would also have been required to have available brochures containing more detailed nutritional information on each menu item, and flagging each high or very high sodium item.
With obesity a growing issue in North America, the Bill was introduced in hopes of discouraging poor food choices by consumers in Ontario.
Due to the recently called Ontario election, the Ontario legislature has now been dissolved and the Bill has died on the order paper. However, the Bill reflects a trend that is already underway in the United States. Since March 23, 2010, American retail food establishments with 20 or more locations have been legally required to list calorie content information for standard menu items on restaurant menus and menu boards, including drive-through menu boards.
The trend towards addressing these concerns through legislation in Canada means that it is only a matter of time before Canadian franchisors and franchisees are required to post food content information for the benefit their patrons.