Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas, the NDP's critic for Health and Long-Term Care, is looking to take out the guess work of just how many calories Ontarians consume at restaurants.
Consumers can’t guess how many calories they consume, but the Healthy Decisions for Healthy Eating bill that Gélinas is introducing will give consumers the information they need to make healthier choices and will encourage restaurants to provide health options, she said.
“Consumers already get this information when they go to the grocery store, and they have the right to the same information when they go to a restaurant. It is simply common sense,” Gélinas said.
Healthy Decisions for Healthy Eating will require chain restaurants with five or more locations in Ontario and earnings of at least $5 million a year to post the number of calories next to each item on the menu. Items containing high or very high sodium levels will also be flagged.
Additionally, there will be a requirement for restaurants to provide free brochures containing detailed nutritional information, like the information already provided to consumers of packaged foods.
While most chain restaurants already have this information available, it is rarely provided to customers when they are deciding what to order. In fact, less than one per cent of consumers receive that information before ordering, she claims.
“This is a simple change that has the potential for a huge impact in peoples’ eating habits,” Gélinas said. “These chains have this information and consumers have a right to have it made accessible when they make their choices.”
Concerns over increasing rates of obesity, hyper-tension, diabetes, and certain cancers have spurred several jurisdictions to implement similar menu labelling laws. At least a dozen American jurisdictions have similar legislation including New York City, California, Seattle, and Philadelphia, she said.
Gélinas' Health Decisions for Healthy Eating bill has received the support of the Canadian Stroke Network, the Association of Local Public Health Agencies (alPHa), the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, the Ontario Medical Association, the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, Prevent Cancer Now, DAWN (DisAbled Women's Network) Ontario, Sport Matters Group registered dietitian Rosie Schwartz, Peterborough County-City Health Unit Medical Officer of Health Dr. Rosana Pellizzari, as well as the Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division.
Posted by Arron Pickard