Canada sets new guidelines for food labels

February 11, 2003 in Nutrition Labeling, Nutrition Topics in the News

Canada sets new guidelines for food labels

Canadian food manufacturers must start this year to provide detailed lists of fat, calories and 13 nutrients on all prepackaged foods, in a government effort to boost health and give people more information about what they eat.

The initiative will apply to day-to-day foods like ground beef, as well as to treats like chocolates and potato chips.

Companies have up to five years to bring in the new nutrition guidelines, which will take the form of standardized tables on product labels.

Previously, nutrition labeling was voluntary and the information wasn't always presented in the same way. Under the new regulations, foods will be labeled with more complete, consistent and accessible nutrition information.

The government is also clarifying the health and dietary claims that manufacturers can make. They can still, for example, highlight low sodium or potassium levels, or draw links between foods rich in calcium and treatment for osteoporosis.

According to some, the new regulations do have some shortcomings. Products such as whole milk and cheeses will be able to carry an osteoporosis health claim, even though their high fat content could increase the risk of heart disease.

Average serving sizes have been increased to better reflect eating habits. Health groups previously complained that the serving size for many products was unrealistically small.

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