An election promise by the federal government to restrict marketing to kids is morphing in to an outright ban on food marketing by restaurants.
Restaurants Canada was particularly concerned because, for the purpose of this initiative, Health Canada defines children as being under the age of 17, rather than under 13 as stated in the Quebec legislation that the prime minister cited as a model.
Health Canada’s proposed definition of “healthy” is so restrictive that some meals advertised by restaurants would not meet the criteria.
Health Canada’s approach is so broad that it will prohibit restaurants from communicating with their customers through in-restaurant materials and will impact sponsorships, charitable giving, logos, websites, social media, apps, etc.
Health Canada’s initiative is augmented by Bill S-228, which would amend the Food and Drugs Act by prohibiting food and beverage marketing directed at children. It is sponsored by Conservative Senator Nancy Greene Raine and is being shepherded through the House of Commons by Liberal MP Dr. Doug Eyolfson.
In advance of the first hour of debate on the bill in the House of Commons on December 12, Restaurants Canada wrote a letter to all MPs outlining our industry’s concerns.
As the first hour of debate on the bill began, Dr. Eyolfson, MP for Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingly, indicated the government’s intention to make two amendments. The first is to redefine children as under 13 instead of under 17 – a top priority for Restaurants Canada – as well as implementing a parliamentary review of the bill in five years to examine the outcome on childhood obesity and advertising to teenagers.