Health Canada is seeking input (until September 11, 2014) about
new nutrition labelling requirements for Canada. The
proposals will mean big changes for food manufacturers and
importers who will have to develop new labels to comply with these
new obligations. And, considering the proposed changes in how
to declare sugars, and changes to serving sizes, changes in
marketing and advertising for some products may also follow.
The proposed amendments primarily revolve around amendments to
the nutrition facts table (NFT) and include:
1. Establishing consistent serving sizes among similar
foods. This includes aligning the serving sizes with what
Canadians actually eat in single sittings (i.e., the reference
amounts, which are also under review);
2. Sugars. Declaring sugar content together in the
ingredient list and the NFT, and setting a Recommended Daily Value
for sugar; and
3. Changes to the appearance and content of the NFT and
To unpack each of these a bit:
1. Serving sizes
a. For most foods that can be measured, the serving size would
be the reference amount (in milliliters or grams), which would be
declared along with the applicable household measurement.
This would apply to products like milk, cream cheese, yogurt, flour
and rice. The goal is to have the same serving sizes across
similar products to allow consumers to compare.
b. Foods that come in pieces (cookies, chips, etc.) would be
declared by number of pieces, shown together with weight. For
foods that are divided (e.g. pizza), the serving size declared
would be the fraction of food closest to the reference amount shown
together with the weight in grams. This would apply to foods
like crackers, cookies, muffins, bagels, cakes and lasagna.
c. For other foods, a consumer-friendly household measurement
could be used (e.g. slices of bread), along with the weight per
serving. Foods in this category include: ready-to eat cereals,
sliced bread, gum, and multi-serving meat.
a. All ingredients that are a type of sugar would be
grouped together in the ingredient list after the common name
"sugars". This will result in all sugars being
higher up the list, since ingredients must be listed in descending
order according to their proportion by weight in the foods.
So, instead of separating added sugars across the ingredient list,
they would now all be combined. For example: "Sugars (fancy
molasses, brown sugar, sugar)".
b. The NFT would disclose "total sugars" and
"added sugars" as separate line items.
c. Health Canada is proposing to establish a Daily Value for
sugar of 100 g, meaning that % Daily Value (or %DV) statements
would show when a food is high in sugar. This, combined with
the on-label explanations about 5DV (discussed below), would show
foods containing 15 g or more as high in sugars.
3. Format and Content of NFT
a. Several changes are being proposed to make the NFT more
easily legible for consumers, including right justification of
serving size. Notably, the declaration of Calories would be
made more prominent, by increasing the font size, putting it in
bold, and separating it with a thick line from the rest of the
b. In addition to %DV (already disclosed) the absolute amounts
of vitamins and minerals would have to be disclosed.
c. Changes are also proposed as to which vitamins and minerals
would be disclosed in the table, removing declarations for Vitamins
A and C, and adding declarations for Vitamin D and Potassium.
d. A footnote would also be added to the bottom of the NFT,
explaining the DV, and that 5% DV is a little, but 15% DV is a
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Health Canada is proposing to change the way that it regulates non-prescription drugs, natural health products and cosmetics in Canada, which will now be referred to collectively as "self-care products."
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