Ontario bowed to food industry pressure on menu labelling legislation: critics

Toronto – Critics say the Ontario government bowed to pressure from the fast-food industry when it passed legislation mandating calorie counts on restaurant menus, but not sodium levels.

And they say the Ministry of Health hired FleishmanHillard, a known lobbyist for the fast-food industry, to lead its public consultations on menu labelling and to prepare a report on the issue.

Bill Jeffery of the Centre for Health Science and Law says FleishmanHillard had a clear conflict of interest because many of its big clients are food companies that oppose menu labelling.

NDP health critic France Gelinas, who introduced at least six private member’s bills on menu labelling since 2008, says the government’s decision to hire a company she calls “the enemy” to do its consultations “stinks.”

FleishmanHillard declined to comment, but the Ministry of Health defended its decision to award the firm the $80,000 contract, saying it “underwent a rigorous selection process” and signed a conflict-of-interest statement.

Starting in January, restaurants with 20 or more locations in Ontario must post calorie counts on menus, but not sodium levels.

The Canadian Press

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