It is no secret that our evidence base for food policy in Canada
is less than perfect. Historically, we have relied on research
tools that are dated, flawed or inconsistent with the
current food marketplace.
As food policy grows in prominence, do we need to
update our research tools to the 21stcentury to ensure that sound food
The Canadian Nutrient File (CNF) is a food composition database
maintained by the federal government. The CNF is used for
population nutrition surveillance and risk assessment that inform
policies and laws, including fortification, salt reduction, food
standards and health claims. Despite rolling updates, the CNF is
notoriously out-of-date. The evolving food supply and resource
limitations have resulted in a CNF that is often inaccurate as soon
as it is published.While
initiatives to improve the CNF are underway and a new version is
expected out this year, there will likely always be some
discrepancy between the marketplace and the database
that cannot be
Another roadblock to food law enlightenment is self-reported
dietary intake surveys. A self-reported dietary intake survey is a
cost-friendly tool used by academics and governments to
link diet to health
outcomes. As part of these surveys, participants are asked to
self-report their food and beverage intake over a period of time.
Despite methodology to reduce errors, participants tend to
underestimate their caloric intake by roughly 10 per cent. This
can’t be surprising. I often lie about what I eat to myself,
let alone another person. Even if you were honest, could you
accurately estimate the portion size and contents of a take-out
sandwich? A recent article in the International Journal of Obesity
opined that the prevalent use of self-reported data may be leading
to conflicting conclusions about the relationship between food
components and disease.Further, the authors noted that these
conflicting conclusions make it difficult for health professionals
to confidently advise their patients and self-reported data should
no longer be used for obesity-related policy
The limitations of these research tools are well-known and
sometimes can be controlled. Nonetheless, should we take a step
back to consider the need for greater resource allocation and
research innovation at the source? For example, Statistics Canada
openly acknowledged that the data used in its 2011 publication on
the sugar consumption of Canadians was based on seven-year-old
self-reported data using the CNF that was prone to recall bias or
selective under-reporting. In addition, the data source did not
distinguish between added and naturally occurring sugars. In spite
of these limitations, the Statistics Canada sugar report was then
used to support the premise that 35 per cent of all sugar in
Canadians’ diet came from added sugar in Ontario’s
No Time To Wait: The Healthy Kids Strategy. However,
Statistics Canada’s added sugar value was extrapolated from
the food group and subject to the flaws mentioned above. To bring
this full circle, the Healthy Kids Strategy was a key driver in the
Ontario government’s school nutrition policy and Bill 45,
Making Healthier Choices Act, 2015, which will legislate
caloric labelling in restaurants in Ontario.
Overall, conclusions developed using the CNF or self-reported
dietary surveys are not without merit. They play a very important
role in food policy development and are just examples of weaknesses
in our evidence base. Nonetheless, our historical research tools
are vulnerable without greater support. The question remains: How
do we facilitate policymakers so they can update and modify these
tools on a regular basis? Because we all benefit from sound laws
based on current
In the future, I believe all food stakeholders, including
industry, NGOs, academia and government have a role to play in
ensuring food law is created from a current and accurate foundation
by demanding and contributing to frequent updates to food databases
and surveys and by prioritizing research tool innovation.
This article originally appeared in Food in
Canada and is republished with the permission of the
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
The prospect of an internal investigation raises many thorny issues. This presentation will canvass some of the potential triggering events, and discuss how to structure an investigation, retain forensic assistance and manage the inevitable ethical issues that will arise.
From the boardroom to the shop floor, effective organizations recognize the value of having a diverse workplace. This presentation will explore effective strategies to promote diversity, defeat bias and encourage a broader community outlook.
Staying local but going global presents its challenges. Gowling WLG lawyers offer an international roundtable on doing business in the U.K., France, Germany, China and Russia. This three-hour session will videoconference in lawyers from around the world to discuss business and intellectual property hurdles.
Effective September 1, 2016, the Disposition of Surplus Real Property Regulation to the Ontario Education Act was amended with the intention to reduce barriers to the formation of health and community hubs in Ontario.
This appeal relates to two generic drug submissions for two different products: exemestane and infliximab. Both submissions cross-referenced the submission of another generic company that had received a Notice of Compliance.
Two recent decisions from the Supreme Court of Canada directly affect Quebec's farm businesses by confirming La Financière Agricole du Québec's discretion in the administration of the farm income stabilization program...
On October 6, 2016, the Ontario Legislature reintroduced the Patients First Act, 2016 as Bill 41. Bill 41 is very similar to its predecessor, Bill 210, which was introduced in June 2016, but makes some important changes to the previous bill.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).