Have you signed the petition for the Making Healthier Choices Act yet?


The Ontario government continues to ignore the health experts’ opinions on including sodium  in the Making Healthier Choices Act .  Instead, the government is proposing that only calories be posted for all standard menu items in chain restaurants. 

While checking out the calories on various options is important for consumers, , leaving the sodium out is a real concern.  As a result, Bill Jeffery of  the Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) wants people to   send a message to Ontario Associate Minister of Health Dipika Damerla that pressure is mounting in Canadians’ arteries for sodium levels to also be posted on menus.

According to CSPI, here’s the timetable for the legislation:

•    by the end of 2015, the Ontario legislature is expected to pass Bill 45, Making Healthier Choices Act (House vote in this week)

•     detailed regulations (consultation in the summer/fall) specifying the ground rules for chain restaurants that prefer to disclose nutrition information in text too small to see and in places that are anywhere but on the menu

•    by January 2017, Bill 45 will require outlets of large restaurant chains to post calories for all standard menu items as part of the province’s strategy to reduce childhood obesity.

It is ironic to note that in 2010, when Ontario Premier Wynne was co-chair of the Council of the Federation, she led Provincial Premiers and Territorial Leaders to produce a unanimous expert report that set the interim goal to reduce average daily sodium intake from 3,400 mg to 2,300 mg by 2016.  When Ontario Deputy Premier Matthews was Minister of Health, she led Provincial and Territorial Health Ministers to call for regulations to be developed in case timely voluntary sodium reductions were not met.

So much for what politicians say.

What has happened since then with fast food chains? Not much in the way of changes for sodium contents.

Studies conducted by CSPI and University of Toronto researchers found that, on average, net reductions in sodium levels have been meagre and many companies are even adding more salt to their prepackaged foods and restaurant menu items.  The petition points out that McDonald’s ads are beginning to boast how low in calories some of its menu items are, its website reveals that 18 of its sandwiches and salads contain more than 1,000 mg of sodium, and many of the others are nearly as salty.    Then there’s Tim Hortons: 13 of Tim Hortons sandwiches are four-digit numbers – a veritable salt mine.

Sign the petition and let the Ontario government know that the health of its citizens should come before the financial health of restaurant chains.

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Categories: Nutrition News

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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