A new law in Ontario aims to make it easier for people to choose healthier foods.
As of Jan. 1, Ontario is the first province in Canada that is required to provide the number of calories for each food and beverage item on menus, labels, or tags. Restaurants, coffee shops, convenience stores, grocery stores, and movie theatres with 20 or more locations must make this information readily available.
Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, says that, “by requiring restaurants and other food service chains to post calorie information publicly, we are helping people in Ontario make informed, healthy decisions for themselves and their families.”
In addition to calorie information, food service providers are also required to post an educational statement for customers about average daily caloric needs.
And just what are calories? Calories are a measure of how much energy is in the food we eat. By being aware of the calories in our food, it can help to ensure that we get the right amount of energy for our daily needs.
Our individual calorie needs vary depending on different factors, including our activity level, age, and gender.
For some restaurants, this meshes with priorities already being embraced.
“At McDonald’s Canada, we’ve long been committed to providing our guests with nutrition information, in-restaurant through our Nutrition Facts brochure and online through our Nutrition Centre and the My McD’s mobile app,” says Marcia and Todd Finlayson, local McDonald’s franchisees. “Building on these efforts, we’ve launched menu board labelling in Ontario, as well as across Canada. Calorie information is now available to our guests on all in-restaurant and drive-thru menu boards and self-order kiosks.”
Todd Finlayson went on to add, “since implementing the calories on the menu boards we have had a very positive reaction from our Guests on not only the healthiness of the items in general but Guests also really appreciate knowing how to reduce calories and fat by requesting customization such as ‘half sauce’ or ‘no cheese’. We are very pleased with the reaction so far”
While many individuals, including doctors and dieticians, feel that this is a good first step into taking control of one’s own health, there is still much education and work to be done to provide the public with a well-rounded understanding of their own health and the health of their families.
For more information on the new requirements and for individual health and calorie needs: Ontario.ca or HealthCanada.ca
BY MEAGAN O’HANLON