On July 14, 2014, Canada’s Minister of Health, Rona Ambrose, as part of Canada’s Food Labelling Modernization Initiative, announced a consultation process for proposed changes to the requirements surrounding the nutrition information displayed on Canadian food labels. The consultations involve both an on-line consumer survey as well as five technical consultation documents. The technical consultation documents relate to:

  • proposed serving size guidance,
  • revisions to reference amounts in Canada’s Food and Drug Regulations,
  • proposed changes to the daily values used in nutrition labelling,
  • proposed changes to core nutrients declared on Canadian nutrition facts tables, and
  • proposed changes the format requirements for the display of nutrition and other information on food labels.

The proposed changes are designed to make the labels easier to read and understand. Consumers have under September 11, 2014 to respond to Health Canada’ s on-line consumer survey. Comments on Health Canada’s technical consultations on nutrition labelling may be submitted until September 12, 2014.

In short, the proposal relates to an updating of the nutrition facts table for prepackaged foods to reflect up-to-date scientific information, changes the look of Canadian nutrition facts tables and allows for an optional information box to highlight the presence of certain components (such as caffeine in the food). Some of the key changes proposed include the following:

  • providing greater emphasis on the calorie content of the food;
  • updating the daily values for certain nutrients of “public health concern”;
  • adding a reference to the % daily value of total sugars and adding a declaration for “added sugars”; and
  • providing absolute amounts for vitamins and minerals on food labels and requiring a specific reference to (among other vitamins and minerals) Vitamin D and potassium on food labels.

One of the changes that has received the greatest comment (so far) has been the required information relating to the amount of “added sugars” in the food products and/or adding a % daily value reference to “total sugars”. This change is designed to allow Canadian consumers to identify whether there is a large amount of added sugar in a food product.

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