Toronto’s board of health has voted to urge the provincial government to force restaurant chains to post calorie and sodium content on their menus.
Restaurants would also be required to have more comprehensive nutrition information available to be provided upon request.
The board has voted to urge the premier and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care to develop legislation on menu labelling that will apply to restaurant chains with ten or more outlets across Canada, or at least $10m in annual sales.
Chief medical officer of health Dr David McKeown said studies have revealed that it is a tough task for people decide on menu options as being healthy or unhealthy.
"People want this information, they’re interested in their health, and studies show that if the information is provided right on the menu that people see it and they actually use it to make decisions," McKeown said.
Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association representative John Nunziata told the board that if menu labelling rules are imposed on restaurants, it would be tantamount to coercing visitors to the restauarant.
Having nutritional content on the menu may encourage those who rarely eat out for fear of the calorie content to visit restaurants.
Toronto is the first Canadian city to make calorie and sodium disclosure mandatory.
In 2008, New York City made it mandatory for chains with more than 15 restaurants to post calorie counts.
Image: Restaurants in Toronto are urged to provide calorie and sodium content on their menus; Photo: Courtesy of Grant Cochrane.