Calories on menus: information for businesses
Learn how to post the number of calories on your menus, tags and labels for the food and drinks you sell.
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Why calories on menus
By providing the number of calories on your menus, tags and labels, you will be helping your customers make more informed choices about what they eat and drink.
Download this fact sheet to share with your customers to help them understand the new menu labelling law.
The law behind menu labels
See the full text of the Healthy Menu Choices Act and its regulation.
Who must post calories
You must post how many calories are in each item listed or depicted on your menus if:
- you operate a business that is part of a food-service chain (20 or more locations in Ontario)
- you own and/or operate 20 or more cafeterias that are open to the public in Ontario
This includes everything from dine-in and fast-food restaurants to convenience and grocery stores to movie theatres, bakeries and coffee shops.
Who does not have to post
You don’t need to post calories on your menus in certain instances. For example, if your food service business operates for less than 60 days – consecutively or not – in a calendar year. This might include businesses that operate during seasonal fairs.
Also, you don’t need to label menus in the following facilities:
- elementary, intermediate or secondary private and public schools
- correctional facilities
- childcare centres
Standard food or drink items
We define a standard food item as a food or drink item that is:
- standard size and content
- served, processed and/or prepared in a regulated location
- e.g. fast-food or dine-in restaurant, grocery store
- meant to be consumed right away, with no further preparation by the customer
- e.g. coffee shops, bakeries, fast-food and dine-in restaurants
What to post
You need to post two things: the number of calories in the standard food item that you sell and a contextual statement.
The contextual statement gives your customers the average amount of calories needed by people of different ages and genders.
From now until December 31, 2017, you must post one of the following two statements:
- The average adult requires approximately 2,000 to 2,400 calories per day; however, individual calorie needs may vary.
- 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.
Starting January 1, 2018
You must post the following statement:
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.
Where to post calories and context
No matter what type of menu display and where you post your menu, it has to show your customers the number of calories for each item that is listed or depicted.
This includes menus on:
- menu boards
- websites and through apps accessed on computers or mobile devices (e.g. tablets, smartphones)
- self-order kiosks
- drive-through boards
- ads (other than billboards, radio and TV commercials)
- promotional flyers which can be used by your customers to place an order
Grab-and-go vs. self-service example
If you sell or offer items with a Nutrition Facts table and they are listed on a menu, then the calories need to be posted on the menu. If they are not listed on a menu but are put on display, then calories do not have to be posted.
That’s different from a place where customers serve themselves (either to sit down or take out). For that, you have to put up a visible, accessible sign close to the food and drinks.
Items available in a vending machine do not need calories posted.
How to post calories on your menus
Use the industry guide to help you produce and post calories on your menus. Or download a guide specific to your type of business:
- Cafeteria-style food services
- Convenience stores
- Grocery stores
- Movie theatres
- Fast-food restaurants
- Self-serve items
- Pre-Packaged Products
Here are some highlights as you get started:
Placement, size and visibility
You must post calories:
- right beside, above or below the name or the price of the food or drink
- in the same font, format (e.g. no bold or all bold) and size as the name and price of the item
- in an unobstructed view with text that’s accessible to all customers whether on a paper or electronic menu card, tag or label
Calories or cals
You have to use either Calories or Cals as a heading or right beside, above or below the number of calories for each menu item.
It must be in the same size, font and format as the number.
You will round the number of calories for each menu item to:
- the nearest 10 for items over 50 calories
- the nearest five for items with over five calories but not over 50 calories
- the nearest whole number for items with ½ a calorie or more but not over five calories
If you sell food or drink with less than ½ a calorie (e.g. water) you will round down to zero.
Food and drink for sharing
If you sell food or drink for sharing (e.g. nachos, hot pot/sushi), you must post calories in one of two ways:
- total number of calories of the shared food or drink and number of servings it provides
- number of calories in a serving and the number of servings in the whole item
Different flavours, varieties and/or sizes
The number of calories for each flavour, variety and/or size of drink and food you sell must be displayed for your customers:
- range for the available options if only a general description of the item is provided (e.g. pizza)
- number of calories for each flavour, variety or size must be posted if the menu, label or tag lists the specific flavours, varieties or sizes of the item (e.g. pepperoni pizza, vegetarian pizza)
With added toppings, sauces, dressings or condiments
Your customers may have the choice to add things to food or drink you sell.
In this case, you must post both the number of calories for:
- the item before the toppings, sauces, dressings or condiments are added
- each addition (i.e. topping, sauce, dressing and/or condiment) for each size that the addition complements
A separate statement must be included to clearly show that these calories are in addition to the original item.
If you sell combination – or combo – meals (i.e. more than one type of food and a drink, a type of food and a drink, etc), you must give the number of calories in a range, from the lowest to the highest number of calories.
You must also give the number of calories for each food or drink option if they’re also listed individually on the menu.