Canada announces front-of-package nutrition labelling
June 30, 2022
By Bakers Journal
Ottawa – Health Canada is introducing new nutrition labelling regulations for packaged foods requiring a symbol on the front of packages indicating that a food is high in saturated fat, sugars and/or sodium. The regulations will come into effect on July 20, 2022.
The new front-of-package (FOP) nutrition symbol includes a magnifying glass, intended to capture people’s attention and act as a quick and easy visual cue to identify foods high in these three nutrients. The FOP nutrition symbol will complement the Nutrition Facts table, displayed on the back of food packages, to help Canadians make more informed food choices, Health Canada said in a news release.
According to Health Canada, saturated fat, sugars and sodium are nutrients of concern; evidence is clear that high intakes of saturated fat, sugars and/or sodium can contribute to various diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Health Canada will require a FOP nutrition symbol on most, but not all, prepackaged foods that require a Nutrition Facts table. Those that meet or exceed certain levels (i.e., thresholds) for saturated fat, sugars or sodium. The thresholds correspond to a percentage of the daily value (DV) per reference amount or serving size, whichever is greater, for saturated fat, sugars or sodium.
The term “reference amount” means the amount of food a person typically consumes in one sitting. The serving size is the quantity of food used to calculate the numbers in the Nutrition Facts table and is based on the reference amount.
Foods that will require a FOP nutrition symbol include:
- General prepackaged foods that meet or exceed 15% DV of saturated fat, sugars or sodium. Such foods could include deli meats, soups, frozen desserts or puddings.
- Prepackaged foods with a small reference amount (≤ 30 g or mL) that meet or exceed 10% DV of saturated fat, sugars or sodium. Because these foods are typically consumed in smaller amounts and can be concentrated sources of these nutrients, they have a lower threshold. Such foods could include pickles, salad dressing, cookies or breakfast cereals.
- Prepackaged main dishes with a reference amount of ≥ 200 g* that meet or exceed 30% DV of saturated fat, sugars or sodium. Because foods that are consumed as a main dish can be expected to make up more of your daily intake of nutrients, they have a higher threshold. Such foods could include frozen lasagna, meat pie or pizza.
*170 g for main dishes intended solely for children 1 to 4 years of age
Exemptions from the FOP nutrition symbol
Health Canada is exempting certain foods from the requirement to display a FOP nutrition symbol. There are three different types of exemptions: health-related exemptions, technical exemptions – including raw, single ingredient whole meats, poultry and fish, and foods sold at farmers markets – and practical exemptions. For exmample, foods on which the nutrition symbol would be redundant, such as packages of sugar, honey, maple syrup, table and flavoured salt, butter and other fats and oils.
The food industry has been given until Jan. 1, 2026, to make this change. However, Canadians may start seeing the FOP nutrition symbol earlier.
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