Nutrition Label Changes Proposed by Health Canada

On June 12, Health Canada announced several proposed initiatives related to food labels that will involve amendments to the nutrition labelling sections of the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR).1 According to Health Canada, the purpose of these initiatives is to "enable consumers to make informed food choices about the food they consume to maintain or improve health."

What You Need to Know

  • Proposed changes targeted toward the required elements of the nutrition facts table:
    • a percent daily value (% DV) will be added for sugars along with a footnote below the table to help consumers understand how much sugar is in the particular food product (e.g., "15% or more is a lot");
    • potassium content will be added to the table, as Health Canada believes potassium is under-consumed by Canadians;
    • vitamin A and C nutrient information will be removed from the table, as these nutrients are already abundant in the diets of most Canadians; and
    • serving sizes will be altered to better reflect the amount that Canadians typically eat in one sitting to help consumers compare the nutritional content for similar foods packaged in different quantities.
  • Proposed changes to the ingredients list:
    • all sugar-based ingredients (e.g., molasses, brown sugar) will be grouped in brackets after the common name "sugars," with the particular sources of sugars appearing by weight from most to least;
    • all words in the list will be in sentence case, with ingredients separated by bullets; and
    • any food colouring will be listed by its common name.
  • In addition, Health Canada is proposing to allow the following new health claim for vegetables and fruits: "A healthy diet rich in a variety of vegetables and fruits may help reduce the risk of heart disease."

What’s Next?

A 75-day comment period on these initiatives is now open, ending August 26, 2015.2 The coming-into-force period for the eventual amendments to the FDR is set for five years to give businesses sufficient time to manage the changes in labelling requirements.

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1 http://www.gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p1/2015/2015-06-13/html/reg1-eng.php.

2 http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/health-system-systeme-sante/consultations/food-label-etiquette-des-aliments/process-processus-eng.php.

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