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It's not just calories that count: Canadians hungry for more complete nutrition picture from restaurants

- The Informed Dining program provides the nutrition information Canadians want in an accessible, consistent manner across the country -

TORONTO, Jan. 15, 2014 /CNW/ - From the fat content to the amount of sugar, Canadians want a complete picture of the foods they eat at home and in restaurants.  According to recent research conducted for the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA), 92% of Canadians feel it is important to know the nutrition breakdown of the foods they eat.  Calories do not make the list of the top three most important types of nutrition information Canadians are seeking from restaurants, coming in at number four - behind total fat, sodium and trans fat - with sugars rounding out the top five.

The research also indicated that if restaurants were to only provide calorie information, nine out of ten Canadians feel that they will be missing information that might be important to them.  In addition, two-thirds believe that due to the complexity of menu items available, menu boards can only give a general indication of nutrition information, not the complete picture. This is why 17 restaurant companies, representing more than 12,000 restaurants, including leading brands in Canada such as A&W, Dairy Queen, Harvey's, McDonald's, Milestones, Montana's, Pizza Pizza, Quiznos, Swiss Chalet and Tim Hortons have committed to implement Informed Dining nationally by the end of the year with most rolled-out by the end of March.

"What we are hearing from our members echoes what we are seeing from independent, third-party research: Canadians want more than just a calorie count. They are interested in a variety of nutrition information and they don't believe that it belongs on a restaurant's menu or menu board," says Garth Whyte, President and CEO, Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association. "Our responsibility is to provide customers with the information they need to make informed dining choices, and what they are telling us they need varies tremendously from one person to the next. The Informed Dining program provides the information Canadians are looking for in a manner that is accessible, visible and presented in a consistent way across the country."

"This CRFA study clearly indicates that having access to full nutrition information is important to Canadian diners and our made in B.C. Informed Dining program has been successful in supporting families to make healthier choices when dining out," says B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake. "Informed Dining continues to expand beyond B.C. with Manitoba's recent endorsement and we are happy to support other jurisdictions in implementing the program."

Informed Dining, a successful voluntary program developed and administered by the Province of British Columbia, recognizes the importance of providing comprehensive nutrition information to allow consumers to make informed choices when dining at quick service and full service restaurants.  The program meets that need by providing calories and 13 core nutrients before ordering, such as through the use of posters, brochures or nutrition menus.

"Given the research findings, the CRFA calls on the Ontario government, as well as all governments across Canada, to collaborate with us on implementing the Informed Dining program so we can provide the nutrition information that Canadians are looking for in an accessible, easy-to-understand and standard format across the country," says Mr. Whyte.

Providing comprehensive information is essential as Canadians acknowledge that they do not all have the same nutrition needs, with 83% agreeing that different types of people will be interested in learning about different types of food information. Further, survey respondents feel the information should be available to them in a variety of ways: only 6% of Canadians believe that the best place to source nutrition information is from an overhead menu board and just one-in-ten feel overhead menu boards can provide a complete nutrition picture.  Canadians prefer to source nutrition information on a restaurant's website (43%), in the menu (36%), in a brochure (24%) or on a mobile app (11%).

ABOUT THE INFORMED DINING PROGRAM
The Informed Dining program was developed by the Province of British Columbia in collaboration with industry and health groups, and provides restaurant guests with comprehensive nutrition information at the point of ordering. Calories and sodium values are highlighted with information about daily requirements. Participating restaurants must display the Informed Dining logo and a statement on their menu or menu board telling customers that nutrition information is available. All nutrition information is provided in a standard format. For more information, please visit www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca/home/informed-dining

ABOUT THE CRFA POLL
The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association commissioned Environics Research Group (www.environics.ca) to conduct an online survey of 1,020 Canadians 18 years of age or older.  The total sample was weighted by age, gender and region to be proportionately representative of the Canadian population who are 18 years of age and older. Responses were collected between December 4 and 10, 2013.

ABOUT THE CANADIAN RESTAURANT AND FOODSERVICES ASSOCIATION
The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association is one of Canada's largest business associations with 30,000 members representing restaurants, bars, caterers and other foodservice providers.  Canada's restaurant industry generates $68 billion annually in economic activity and employs more than one million people in communities across the country.

SOURCE Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association

Image with caption: "It's not just calories that count: Canadians hungry for more complete nutrition picture from restaurants (CNW Group/Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140115_C8780_PHOTO_EN_35525.jpg

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