Health Canada has finalized changes to the Nutrition Facts table and list of ingredients on packaged foods. These changes reflect the latest science and incorporate feedback and concerns from consumers and stakeholders, the department said. With these changes, Health Canada hopes to help consumers make more informed decisions about the food they eat.
Industry will have until 2021 to comply with the new regulations. During this five-year transition period, food manufacturers will be allowed to use either the former or the new labelling requirements.
Key Changes Include:
- More prominent display of serving size and Calories;
- Modified serving-size definitions;
- Percent daily value for total sugars;
- Updated list of mandatory label nutrients;
- A new footnote that explains how to use the % DV;
- Improved legibility for ingredients list and allergen information;
- Grouping of sugar-based ingredients in the ingredient statement;
- Declaration of food colours in the ingredient statement by their individual common names.
Calories are shown in a larger, bolder type with a bold line below and the Serving Size statement is now more prominent for Nutrition Facts tables.
The regulations include a new percent daily value for total sugars on the label. Additionally, in the ingredient statement all ingredients that are sugar-based will be grouped in brackets after the common name “sugars.” Currently, ingredients that are sugar-based and added to a food are listed separately by weight.
Vitamin A and vitamin C have been removed from the list of mandatory nutrients, because most Canadians get enough of these in their diets. Manufacturers will still be able to add these to the label as voluntary nutrients.
Potassium is now a mandatory nutrient because it is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure. According to the latest research, most Canadians are not getting enough of this nutrient.
The new footnote at the bottom of the table will easily summarize the % DV numbers as such:
- 5% or less is a little
- 15% or more is a lot
This will help consumers understand how much sugar and other nutrients (like sodium) are in their food.
Modified Serving Sizes
Serving sizes have been modified to be more consistent and list realistic measures. With this change, Canadians will be more easily able to compare similar foods and make it easier to understand how many calories (and nutrients) they are consuming.
For example, foods that can be measured must now be required to display a common household measure, like a cup, and reference amounts are now standardized. Yogurt, for example, has a reference weight of 175g, which equates to 3/4 cup. All yogurt labels, then, will show nutrient amounts per that serving size.
For foods that come in pieces, the serving size will be shown as the number of whole pieces and will be paired with its metric equivalent in grams, again, as a standardized reference amount. For example, crackers will have a reference weight of 20g (or as close to it as possible without having to fractionalize the cracker), but the number of pieces will change depending on the cracker size. So, one label might say “per 6 crackers (21g)” and another would say “per 8 crackers (20g).”
For certain foods, the serving size must reflect the way they are typically eaten (and this will be the standardized measure) and paired with its weight in grams, which will change depending on the size of the food item. For example, the standard serving size for sliced bread is now 2 slices. So, one label might say “per 2 slices (62g), where another would say “per 2 slices (74g).”
What is ESHA doing?
We are in the process of implementing the final regulatory changes, updated label formats, and modified nutrient values into Genesis R&D Food Formulation & Labeling software. Current Priority Support who own the Canadian Label Module will receive their update automatically. If you are not sure of your status or if you need to purchase the Canadian module, contact the Sales Department today.