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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 104, Issue 3, pp e229–e234 | Cite as

Ready for Policy? Stakeholder Attitudes Toward Menu Labelling in Toronto, Canada

  • Catherine L. MahEmail author
  • Loren Vanderlinden
  • Dia Mamatis
  • Donna L. Ansara
  • Jennifer Levy
  • Lisa Swimmer
Mixed Research
  • 1 Downloads

Abstract

Objectives

The purpose of this research was to assess key stakeholder attitudes regarding menu labelling in Toronto, the largest municipality in Canada. Menu labelling is a population health intervention where food-labelling principles are applied to the eating-out environment through disclosure of nutrient content of food items on restaurant menus at the point of sale. Menu-labelling legislation has been implemented in the United States, but has yet to be adopted in Canada. As provincial voluntary programs and federal analyses progress, municipal jurisdictions will need to assess the feasibility of moving forward with parallel interventions.

Methods

Data were collected and analyzed in late 2011 to early 2012, including: a consumer eating-out module incorporated into a public health surveillance telephone survey (n=1,699); an online survey of independent restaurant operators (n=256); in-depth key informant interviews with executives and decision makers at chain restaurants (n=9); and a policy consultation with local restaurant associations.

Results

Toronto residents, particularly men, younger adults, and those with higher income or education, frequently eat out. A majority indicated that nutrition information is important to them; 69% note that they currently use it and 78% reported they would use it if it were readily available. Resistance to menu-labelling requirements at the municipal level was articulated by franchise/chain restaurant executives and industry associations. Despite overall low interest among independent restaurant operators, 57% reported feeling some responsibility to provide nutrition information and 50% believed it could be good for business.

Conclusions

This research supports earlier literature that indicates strong public support for menu labelling alongside perceived barriers among the restaurant and foodservices sector. Leverage points for effective operator engagement for menu-labelling adoption were identified, nonetheless, highlighting the need for public health support.

Key Words

Nutrition public policy local government 

Résumé

Objectifs

Évaluer les attitudes d’acteurs privilégiés à l’égard de l’étiquetage du menu à Toronto, la plus grande ville du Canada. L’étiquetage du menu est une intervention en santé des populations qui applique les principes de l’étiquetage des aliments à l’environnement de la restauration en divulguant la valeur nutritive des produits alimentaires au menu des restaurants, au point de vente. Des lois sur l’étiquetage du menu sont en vigueur aux États-Unis, mais il n’y en a pas encore au Canada. Avec l’évolution des programmes provinciaux volontaires et des analyses fédérales, les administrations municipales devront évaluer la faisabilité d’adopter des interventions parallèles.

Méthode

Entre la fin de 2011 et le début de 2012, nous avons recueilli et analysé nos données: un module sur les consommateurs qui mangent à l’extérieur, intégré dans une enquête téléphonique de surveillance de la santé publique (n=1 699); un sondage en ligne auprès de restaurateurs indépendants (n=256); des entretiens approfondis avec des exploitants et des décideurs de chaînes de restauration (n=9); et une consultation stratégique avec les associations locales de restaurateurs.

Résultats

Les Torontois, surtout les hommes, les jeunes adultes et les personnes dont le niveau de revenu ou d’instruction est élevé, mangent souvent à l’extérieur. La majorité des répondants considèrent que les données nutritionnelles sont importantes pour eux; 69 % disent consulter ces données, et 78 % disent qu’ils le feraient si elles étaient aisément accessibles. Les exploitants de franchises ou de chaînes de restauration et les associations du secteur ont exprimé de la résistance à la perspective d’une réglementation municipale de l’étiquetage du menu. Les restaurateurs indépendants ont manifesté peu d’intérêt, mais 57 % ont quand même dit se sentir responsables de fournir des données nutritionnelles, et 50 % pensent que cela pourrait être bon pour les affaires.

Conclusions

L’étude confirme les résultats des travaux publiés antérieurement, qui font état à la fois d’un large soutien du public à l’étiquetage du menu et d’obstacles perçus par le secteur de la restauration et des services alimentaires. Nous avons néanmoins repéré les éléments les plus susceptibles de convaincre les exploitants d’adopter l’étiquetage du menu, d’où un besoin de soutien par la santé publique.

Mots Clés

nutrition politique publique administration locale 

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catherine L. Mah
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Loren Vanderlinden
    • 1
    • 3
  • Dia Mamatis
    • 3
  • Donna L. Ansara
    • 3
  • Jennifer Levy
    • 3
  • Lisa Swimmer
    • 4
  1. 1.Dalla Lana School of Public HealthUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Food Policy Research InitiativeCentre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Healthy Public Policy DirectorateToronto Public HealthTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention DirectorateToronto Public HealthTorontoCanada

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