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Food and Nutrition

Improving Nutrition Information on Food Labels: Health Canada's Proposed Changes to the Look of the Nutrition Facts Table and the List of Ingredients

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Health Canada is proposing to update the Nutrition Facts table for prepackaged foods to reflect the latest scientific information, as well as changing the look of the Nutrition Facts table and the list of ingredients so that they can best help Canadians make informed choices when selecting foods for themselves and their families.

Proposed Changes to the Nutrition Facts Table

Some of the proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts table include:

  • Refreshing the format to make the Nutrition Facts table easier to read and to emphasize certain elements, such as Calories, to help Canadians quickly locate this information.
  • Changing the ordering of the nutrients in a way that all of the nutrients that have a % Daily Value (DV) listed in the upper part of the table are the nutrients that Canadians may want less of, and that the nutrients with a % DV listed in the lower part of the table are the nutrients that Canadians may want more of.
  • Requiring information about the amount of "added sugars" in a food product and/or adding a % DV for "total sugars" to help consumers identify if there is a lot of sugars in a food product using the education message on the % DV at the bottom of the table.
  • Requiring the declaration of potassium and vitamin D, nutrients that many in the Canadian population are not getting enough of, which puts them at higher risk for chronic disease. Vitamin D is important for its role in bone health. Potassium is beneficial in lowering blood pressure. Vitamins A and C would no longer be required on the label because there is no evidence of a deficiency of these vitamins in the general population, though manufacturers could declare them voluntarily.
  • Adding a message at the bottom of the Nutrition Facts table that would read: "5% DV or less is a little, 15% DV or more is a lot". This message is in line with Health Canada's education campaign and would provide Canadians a reminder on how to use the %Daily Value.

Proposed Changes to the List of Ingredients

The list of ingredients shows all the ingredients in a packaged food from most to least. It is an important tool for consumers to understand the composition of a food, but many Canadians have indicated that they often find it difficult to locate and read the list of ingredients on food labels.

Fig 2: Proposed Changes to the List of Ingredients

Some of the proposed changes to the list of ingredients include:

  • Requiring a consistent look for the list of ingredients, similar to the Nutrition Facts table.
  • Requiring the list of ingredients to appear in a distinctive box with a title, using black type on a white or neutral background for contrast, using upper and lower case letters, and having a minimum font size.