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Program Update: Restaurant Program to be Phased Out

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The Eat Smart! Restaurant Program will be phased out starting September 2009. The Eat Smart! Program will focus efforts on the Eat Smart! School and Workplace Programs.

What is the Eat Smart! Restaurant Program?

  • The Eat Smart! Restaurant Program was launched provincially in 1999. The Program offered an "Award of Excellence" to restaurants that met exceptional standards in nutrition and food safety.
  • Public health dietitians and public health inspectors worked together with restaurant owners to help meet the criteria.

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Why is the Eat Smart! Restaurant Program being discontinued?

  • Many factors were considered when making this difficult decision:
    • There were only 2 newly certified restaurants in Halton in the past 2 years. At the same time, the number of workplaces and school cafeterias participating in Eat Smart! increased.
    • Consumers are now demanding healthier food choices when eating out and restaurants are meeting these demands by offering these choices, regardless of recognition by the Eat Smart! restaurant program.
    • The  Dinewise food premises disclosure program by-law and provincial laws have made the Food Safety Standard and Smoke-Free Standard obsolete.
    • It is difficult to gauge the impact the program is having in changing consumer’s food choices and behaviours.
    • Due to the decline in participation and ongoing implementation challenges, the Ministry of Health Promotion (MHP) will no longer provide support for the Eat Smart! Restaurant Program.
  • Attention will be re-focused on the Eat Smart! School and Workplace Programs.

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My restaurant’s Eat Smart! Certification expires later this year. Is it still valid?

  • Yes, it's business as usual for existing restaurants until their Eat Smart! Award of Excellence expires.
  • However, no new certification will be awarded after September 2009, when support for the program officially ends.

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What else is the Region doing to contribute to the reduction of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer in Ontario?

  • The Ministry of Health Promotion will be supporting the implementation of a pilot program involving the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Health Check program. This program will align and work with EatRight Ontario in terms of support and consumer education.
  • The Halton Region Health Department will continue to provide input to the ministry and the Nutrition Resource Centre (the provincial organization that coordinates the Eat Smart! program across Ontario) in order to contribute to the evolution of the program.

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How else can I promote my restaurant’s commitment to safe, healthy food choices?

  • We encourage you to continue to take a leadership role in offering safe, healthy food choices to your customers.

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Will Halton Region continue to inspect restaurants?

  • Halton Region Public Health Inspectors regularly conduct inspections of food premises and this activity will continue.
  • In Halton, the  Dinewise program is a mandatory food safety program for restaurants and food take-outs. The main focus of the program is on providing consumers with a way to find out whether or not the restaurant they are eating in, meets standards for food safety as set out by the Ontario Government.

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What is happening with the Eat Smart! School and Workplace Programs? Will they continue?

  • Yes, both programs will continue.
  • The Health Department will focus on the Eat Smart! School and Workplace Programs.

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