The Changing Face of Canadian Food Labels

Posted on September 10 2014 | Author: Jessica Taylor

Today’s food labels provide a wealth of information from nutrient and caloric content to third-party certifications, from health claims to environmental impact. As with most food trends, food labels have evolved over time based on consumer demand. Canadian consumers are becoming more and more health conscious and demanding to know what is in their food, especially pre-packaged foods.

Many of us take for granted being able to flip over a box at the grocery to figure out how many calories are in our favourite snack food or how much sodium is in a can of chicken noodle soup, but mandatory nutrition labeling hasn’t been around for that long. Some of you may be surprised to learn that it wasn’t until January 1st of 2003 that ingredient lists and Nutrition Facts tables became mandatory on most foods - and it was as recent as December 12, 2007, that all pre-packaged foods required both to appear on their labels.

While they do provide a lot of helpful information, Canadian food labels can be misleading and difficult for parents and consumers of all ages to understand. In order to arm consumers with the information necessary to make healthier food choices, a consultation process involving a number of stakeholder groups across Canada has taken place and proposed changes have been Nutrition Facts proposaldeveloped based on this feedback. The proposed changes include:

  • Serving sizes will be changed to more accurately reflect the average consumer’s intake.
  • Nutrients that consumers should limit their intake of will be listed in the top portion of the table while those, which need to be consumed more frequently, will be in the bottom portion.
  • The caloric content will still be included at the top of the table, but in bolder, larger font.

A consultation on the proposed changes will come to a close on September 11th and be reviewed in the coming weeks. However, even after a decision is made it will take some time before the current labels are phased out.

 So next time your visit your local grocery store or grab a snack from the kitchen cupboard take note of what you see – there is a lot more to a food label than meets the eye.

Jessica Taylor
Business Analyst, Food, Nutrition & Health


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