The proposed Canadian Caloric Menu Legislation is intended to influence the eating habits of individuals by educating them on the nutritional value of the food that they are consuming; and in turn, affect the decisions of enough people to create a public health benefit.
FIC's goal is to champion this legislation in Canada. This initiative would be good for the health of all Canadians by providing them with a choice: Better health through better knowledge.
To support the proposed Caloric Menu Legislation, please visit the Supporters page.
Fitness Industry Council of Canada's (FIC's) proposal for the Caloric Menu Legislation is based on the recently passed federal leglislation in the United States (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) in which parts of the law requires restaurant chains with 20 or more outlets to disclose calorie-count data on their food items and supply information on how many calories a healthy person should be eating daily.
This national policy in the USA was modeled after an original law implemented in California where the State started to label the calorie-count on food items. Following California, New York implemented a similar law, as well as did Oregon, Maine, and Massachusetts - leading the way for the federal law.
Now, restaurant chains in the United States will not only have a calorie-count posted on menu boards beside food items, but also, when asked, have written information on total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, sugars, dietary fiber and protein information. This legislation does not only require calorie-count information on standard restaurants, but also for each serving of food at salad bars, buffet lines, and vending machines.
Canada's Current Menu Labeling System
In Canada, the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA) and 33 of Canada's largest food chains with thousands of restaurant locations joined forces on February 2005 to launch a Nutrition Information Program that would make it simpler for customers to obtain nutritional information on the foods that they eat. Currently, British Columbia's Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport is in the preliminary stages of reviewing the idea of menu nutrition labeling for foods served at restaurants and food service establishments. Since participation for this effort is voluntary, and difficult for the CRFA to enforce compliance, not all restaurants have taken on the nutritional change. A Canadian federal law could potentially strengthen the standardization efforts initiated by the CRFA.
Previously Proposed Legislation in Canada
Canadian health organizations such as the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) have long been providing information on as well as advocating governments for measures to promote healthy eating and active living as a way to improve the health of Canadians.
In a submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health Study on Healthy Living in February 2011, The Canadian Diabetes association put forth the following recommendations regarding healthy eating:
- CDA recommends that the federal government examine and consider available regulatory options to promote healthy eating. Such measures may include, but not be limited to:
- Enhanced nutrient labeling for food products, building on the achievements of food labeling introduced to Canada in 2005.
- Calorie labeling for menus in large chain restaurants as the governments of New York City, California and numerous other U.S. States and municipalities have already done.
- Taxation of calorie dense foods with little nutrient value.
- Ensuring availability of affordable, nutritious foods for Canada's north.
- Legislative measures concerning broader social policy environment. For example, one factor in curbing childhood obesity in QC may be its Consumer Protection Act (1980), which bans all commercial advertising directed at children, including unhealthy foods.
Recently, the CDA supported the Center for Science in the Public Interest's (CPSI) in a letter to Ontario's health minister the Hon. Deb Matthews and Health Promotion Minister the Hon. Margarett Best supporting the Healthy Decisions for Healthy Eating Act. This is a private member's bill would require calorie labeling on menus at large chain-restaurants in Ontario.For more information on the background of the CML initiative, please visit the Resources page