Food Labelling News!
Health Canada recently announced improvements to the nutrition facts table and ingredients list on food labels. Let’s take a look at some of them.
This is where most of the changes were made.
First off, the serving size must realistically reflect what Canadians typically eat in one sitting.
Serving sizes must also be more consistent to make it easier to compare similar foods.
This information will be based on regulated reference amounts like cups, teaspoons and tablespoons followed by their equivalent in millilitres or grams.
When a package is considered single serving (like a can of soda), the nutrition facts will reflect the contents of the entire container.
On multi-serve packages (like cookies), the nutrition facts will be based on pieces or portions.
Finally, on products like bread, the reference serving will be standardized to two slices. That way, consumers won’t have to calculate complicated nutrition ratios in their heads!
Sugar (in all its forms)
Sugar is molasses, glucose-fructose, brown sugar, cane sugar, sugar substitutes like fruit compotes... and so many more. From now on, after Sugars will appear in brackets the list of all sugar-based ingredients in descending order of weight.
Hiding the actual sugar ingredients was a ploy to mislead consumers who might have a negative perception of certain types of sugar.
Another change is the percentage daily value for all sugars as well as a footnote to help interpret it.
Adios vitamins A and C! Hola potassium! Health Canada made the decision to remove vitamins A and C because most Canadians get enough in their diets. Conversely, potassium was added to the list of nutrients (with calcium and iron) because of its positive effects on blood pressure and the fact that Canadians aren’t getting enough.
The amounts in milligrams (mg) for all three will also be indicated.
In the past, simply indicating food colouring in the list of ingredients would suffice.
Now, food companies must individually list them using their common names.
At the bottom of the nutrition facts table will be a footnote about percentage daily value that will state:
- 5% or less is a little
- 15% or more is a lot
To emphasize specific information in the nutrition facts table, food companies must use minimum font sizes for servings and calories.
Calories are also underlined.
The general layout was revamped, with the text required to be black on white or neutral background.
Bullets, commas as well as upper- and lower-case letters must also be used to better separate ingredients.
The food industry was given five years to change its labels. In light of the pandemic, the deadline was extended to December 14, 2022.
So, don’t be surprised to see both old and new nutrition facts at the supermarket. Thankfully, it will all be standardized soon.