Food labelling in Canada is changing. New resolutions passed by Health Canada have changed the way nutritional information will be presented to consumers, making it easier to understand exactly what you’re consuming.
While food has always had nutritional information available on the packaging, these new labels will change the way consumers shop.
How is the Label Changing?
Until now, food packaging was left to the discretion of the producer. Soup A, for example, may give nutritional information based on a serving size of 50 grams. Soup B may use a serving size of 35 grams. The consumer was left to do the mental math necessary to determine which soup would meet their needs.
Existing labels often used units of measurement that were difficult for the average consumer to picture. (Can you ladle out 40 grams of soup easily?) Those units of measure have been replaced with recognizable amounts. Click To TweetUnder the new regulations, there will be standardized serving sizes that will let you compare apples to apples, or soup to soup. The serving size will be what a typical person would eat in one serving. Yogurt packaging will reflect the serving size of ¾ cup, regardless of the package size, with the new package labels.
Units of Measurement
Existing labels often used units of measurement that were difficult for the average consumer to picture. (Can you ladle out 40 grams of soup easily?) Those units of measure have been replaced with recognizable amounts. You can easily picture ½ cup or 2 tablespoons worth of food, so you can easily determine the nutritional value of your serving. Single-serving food labels will provide the nutritional value for the entire serving.
How Will This Help Consumers?
One of the main goals of the new labeling initiative is to help consumers make healthier eating choices. Products will be labeled according to the amount of saturated fat, sugar, and sodium it contains. Some products will be exempt from labels (honey, maple syrup, and salt, for example), as well as whole milk, which has been proven to have nutritional benefits.
The label redesign will include bold fonts for key facts, underlining and new sections to help consumers read and understand the labels.
Sugars will be grouped so you can easily see all the forms of sugar that have been added to the product. Ingredients will be grouped in descending quantities, so you can understand how much sugars are added compared to other ingredients.
Products that are high in sugar, saturated fats and sodium will be required to have a warning label near the top of the package. These eye-catching warnings will allow consumers to quickly identify products that are unhealthy.
When Will the Changes Take Effect?
The amendments went into effect December of 2016. Regulated products have five years to comply with the new labelling requirements. Consumers may start noticing more and more products sporting the new labels on shelves.
The new labelling changes are another way that Health Canada is helping consumers maintain a healthy lifestyle. With more than 14 million adults in Canada reporting that they are obese or overweight, the new initiatives can be another important tool in the fight against obesity. How do you feel about the new labels? Will they make it easier to make nutritional choices?
Sarab Hans is President of Hans Dairy