This is the next step in Health Canada’s Healthy Eating Strategy, which was announced by the Minister in the fall with the launch of the revision of Canada’s Food Guide. The strategy aims to make healthy food choices the easy choice for all Canadians. It lays out how Health Canada will deliver on the Government’s commitments to reduce sodium in processed foods, eliminate industrially produced trans-fat, provide consumers with more information about sugars and food colors, and introduce restrictions on the commercial marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children.
Included in the labeling amendments are changes to the regulation of serving sizes to make comparing similar food products easier. A simple rule of thumb, 5% is a little, 15% is a lot, has also been added to the Nutrition Facts Table to help Canadians use the percent daily value (% DV) to better understand the nutritional composition of a single product or to better compare two food products. More information on sugars will also be made available, including a % DV for total sugars in the Nutrition Facts table, and the grouping together of sugar-based ingredients under the name “sugars” in the list of ingredients.
In addition, all food colors will be declared by their common name rather than the generic term “color” and the list of ingredients and allergen information will be easier to read. A new health claim will also be allowed on fruits and vegetables, informing Canadians about the health benefits of these foods. The food industry has until 2021 to make these changes. This timeline for implementation will align with other labeling changes proposed under the Healthy Eating Strategy including front of pack labeling as well as some label modernization measures being proposed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
This initiative is part of the vision for a healthy Canada, which takes a holistic approach to health, focusing on healthy eating, healthy living and a healthy mind.
In Canada, four out of five Canadians risk developing conditions such as cancer, heart disease or Type 2 diabetes; six out of 10 adults are overweight and one-third of youth are overweight or obese.
These food label changes are being made after two years of consultations with consumers and stakeholders. During the consultations, the majority of respondents told Health Canada that improvements are needed to both how and what information is provided on food labels to reflect the latest science and allow consumers to easily compare products when shopping.
As part of the Healthy Eating Strategy, Health Canada has already completed a first set of consultations on revisions to Canada’s Food Guide, and is currently consulting with Canadians on a proposal to introduce front-of-package labeling on foods that are high in sugars, sodium and saturated fat. It is also consulting on a proposal to ban the use of industrial trans fat in foods. Canadians can participate in both consultations until January 13.
“We have updated nutrition facts tables on pre-packaged foods in a way that is based on science and that will meet the needs of Canadians feeding their families. We are also consulting on innovative ways to present nutrition information on food labels, such as front-of-pack labeling, to help Canadians make healthy choices on sugars, sodium and saturated fat,” said Ms. Philpott.