Menu labelling bill a bad move for Ontario consumers

    TORONTO, April 9 /CNW/ - Ontario's restaurant industry has been working
to provide more nutrition information for customers, but labelling menus with
calorie counts will be a step in the wrong direction, says the Canadian
Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA).
    "Restaurant chains in particular have taken significant steps to provide
more nutrition information for their customers, and the entire food industry
has been working to reduce the level of trans fat in menu items," says
Stephanie Jones, CRFA Vice President Ontario. "Bill 156 is a huge step
backward on both of these issues.
    "CRFA and our member companies are trying to work with the Government of
Ontario to improve and expand the industry's Nutrition Information Program,
which was developed with Health Canada, recognizes the unique challenges of
the restaurant setting, and meets the full spectrum of information needs among
our customers."
    Through the voluntary Nutrition Information Program, chain restaurants
provide nutrition information via brochures, posters and website calculators
for standardized menu items. The information covers the 13 key nutrients that
consumers are accustomed to seeing on the Nutrition Facts panel on packaged
foods, as well as allergens. There are now 33 restaurant chains participating
in this program.
    "The Nutrition Information Program was developed to address the wide
range of dietary concerns among restaurant customers," says Jones. "Some are
counting calories while others are watching carbohydrates or fat consumption.
As an industry we need to respond to all of these needs."
    Most restaurants offer information via brochures, posters and websites,
because these formats are flexible enough to provide accurate information
given the "made to order" nature of restaurant meals. Changing the side dish
or toppings on a restaurant item can have a material impact on its nutrition
profile, including calories.
    On the issue of trans fat, CRFA has repeatedly called for federal
regulations to limit trans fat in the Canadian food supply, because the entire
food supply chain - from farm to fork - must work together to increase the
supply of healthier trans fat alternatives.
    "Provincial or local limits on trans fat are short sighted," says Jones.
"Restaurants rely on food manufacturers to provide trans-free alternatives,
and while we've made a lot of progress in this area, we're not going to reach
the finish line unless farmers, food processors, manufacturers, retailers and
restaurateurs are all moving in lock-step."
    CRFA is urging the province to join its call for federal action on trans

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For further information: To arrange an interview with Stephanie Jones,
contact Jeni Armstrong, Communications Specialist at (416) 649-4254 or

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