Health Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Common menu bar links

Food and Nutrition

Ready-to-Use Presentation on Nutrition Labelling

Help on accessing alternative formats, such as Portable Document Format (PDF), Microsoft Word and PowerPoint (PPT) files, can be obtained in the alternate format help section.

Introduction

This presentation was designed to assist intermediaries in informing consumers on how to use the nutrition labelling information to make informed food choices. Intermediaries play an important role in educating consumers on using the nutrition label by building awareness of the label and facilitating the understanding of the key elements. Linkages to Canada's Food Guide will further assist intermediaries in supporting healthy eating.

Who should use the presentation

The presentation has been developed for anyone who is in a position to educate consumers about how to make informed food choices:

  • dietitians/nutritionists
  • health educators
  • nurses (e.g., those in public, community and occupational health)
  • health promotion personnel
  • community leaders/volunteers
  • health professionals in training (e.g., nursing students)

Format of presentation

The ready-to-go presentation consists of 28 slides which cover the following topic areas:

  • Introduction to nutrition labelling
  • Description of the three elements of nutrition labelling
  • How nutrition labelling and Canada's Food Guide support healthy eating
  • Key points to remember to enhance the use of the food label

Each slide is accompanied by "Speaker's Notes". These notes were developed to make it easier to deliver the presentation, and to expand on the information on the slide. Within the "Speaker's Notes" there is sometimes an "Additional information for speaker" and a "Background information for speaker".

The "Speaker's Notes" can be accessed through your software presentation program. You can also print the ready-to-go presentation with the speaking notes underneath the picture of each slide.

Direction for use

Download the ready-to-go presentation and save it to your hard drive, a CD, a USB key or a diskette. Use with a laptop and LCD projector, or print onto transparencies and use with an overhead projector.

When presenting, you may want to have on hand copies of the information sheet Using the Nutrition Facts table: % Daily Value.

If internet access is possible, you may also want to walk your audience through the Interactive Nutrition Label and Quiz.

Slide 1:

Understanding Nutrition Labelling to Make Informed Food Choices

Speaker's notes:

This presentation will help you to learn how to make informed food choices using the nutrition information on food labels.

Slide 2:

Nutrition information provided on food labels

  • Nutrition Facts

Nutrition Facts

  • Ingredient List

INGREDIENTS: Whole wheat, wheat bran, sugar/glucose-fructose, salt, malt (corn flour, malted barley), vitamins (thiamine hydrochloride, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, d-calcium pantothenate), minerals (iron, zinc oxide). 

  • Nutrition Claims

"Good source of fibre"





  • Health Claims

"A healthy diet..."


Speaker's notes:

The different kinds of nutrition information found on food labels are the Nutrition Facts, the ingredient list, nutrition claims and health claims. Only Nutrition Facts and the ingredient list are mandatory in Canada.

The next slides illustrate how federally regulated nutrition labelling can provide consumers with information to make informed food choices.

Additional information for speaker:
An example of a regulated health claim is: "A healthy diet rich in vegetables and fruit may help reduce the risk of some types of cancer."

Slide 3:

Since 2005

Nutrition Facts:

  • Easy to find
  • Easy to read
  • On most prepackaged foods.

Nutrition Facts

Speaker's notes:

Nutrition Facts became mandatory for almost all prepackaged foods on December 12, 2005.

The Nutrition Facts table appears on food labels with a consistent look, making it easy to find and easy to read.

Nutrition Facts includes:

  • the specific amount of food on which all nutrient information is based;
  • calories and 13 core nutrients;
  • the actual amount of a nutrient, in grams or milligrams; and
  • the % Daily Value.

Slide 4:

What food products have Nutrition Facts?

Almost all prepackaged foods have Nutrition Facts.

Some exceptions are:

  • fresh fruit and vegetables;
  • raw meat, poultry, fish and seafood;
  • foods prepared or processed at the store:
    bakery items, sausage, salads;
  • foods that contain very few nutrients:
    coffee beans, tea leaves, spices;
  • alcoholic beverages.

Speaker's notes:

Almost all prepackaged foods are required to have a Nutrition Facts table.

This slide lists some of the foods that are exempt from nutrition labelling regulations.

Additional information for speaker:
The exemptions exist for many reasons, including natural variations in nutritional content of vegetables, fruit and meat.

Although raw meat, poultry, fish and seafood are exempted, ground meats and ground poultry are not and require a Nutrition Facts table.

Foods that are not prepackaged, such as those served in restaurants, do not require a Nutrition Facts table. However, consumers should be encouraged to look for and request nutrition information. Nutrition information is often available for the menu items in cafeterias and fast food restaurants. Information binders on the nutritional value of vegetables and fruit may be found near produce sections in grocery stores.

Slide 5:

Use Nutrition Facts...

  • to easily compare similar foods
  • to look for foods with more or less of a specific nutrient
  • to select foods for special diets

...to make informed food choices

Speaker's notes:

The Nutrition Facts table has information that will enable you to:

  • compare foods that are similar to determine which one may be a better choice for you;
  • find foods that have more of a nutrient that you might want, like fibre, vitamin A, calcium or iron;
  • find foods that have less of a nutrient that you might want less of, such as fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sugars or sodium; and
  • select foods for special diets; for example, some individuals who manage their diabetes may want to use the Nutrition Facts table to keep track of the amount of carbohydrate they are consuming.

Slide 6:

Nutrition Facts are based on a specific amount of food

Compare this to the amount you eat.

Nutrition Facts

The specific amount is:

  • listed under the Nutrition Facts title.
  • listed in common measures you use at home and a metric unit.
  • not necessarily a suggested quantity of food to consume.












Speaker's notes:

Nutrition Facts are based on a specific amount of food - compare this to the amount you eat.

The first thing you should do when you read the Nutrition Facts is to:

  • look at the specific amount of food listed; and
  • compare it to how much you actually eat.

If you eat more or less than specified in the Nutrition Facts table, the amount of each nutrient consumed will be different than what's shown in the table.

This specific amount will be given in measures you may be familiar with, such as 1 cup or 1 slice of bread and in a metric unit such as millilitres or grams.

It is important to refer to this amount when comparing products.
The specific amount of food is not necessarily a suggested quantity of food to consume.

Slide 7:

Examples of Specific Amount of Food
Food type Suggested Serving Size
Bread 50 g (1 slice), if unsliced
or
25-70 g (1-2 slices), if sliced
Crackers and melba toast 15-30 g (4 crackers)

Speaker's notes:

Have you ever wondered why similar food products, such as bread, may have different amounts of food listed in the Nutrition Facts table? Let's have a look at why this can be...

The specific amount of food listed in the Nutrition Facts table is chosen by a food manufacturer usually within a suggested serving size range, which covers the regulated reference amount for each food category.

In the case of bread, the regulated reference amount of food is 50 g. If the bread is unsliced, it is suggested that the specific amount of food be 50 g, accompanied by a common household measure such as 2 cm slice. However, to avoid an amount of food in fractions, such as 1 Ż slices (50 g), the manufacturer can choose a specific amount of food within the suggested serving size range of 25-70 g and indicate if the serving size is 1 or 2 slices of bread.

Let's look at another example: crackers, hard bread sticks and melba toast. Although the reference amount is set at 20 g, food manufacturers may choose a specific amount of food within the suggested serving size range of 15-30 g to avoid listing an amount of food as 2 ╝ crackers (20 g).

Additional information for speaker:
The reference amount serves as the basis of compositional criteria for nutrient content claims and health claims.

A complete list of the regulated reference amounts and serving size ranges can be found in chapter 6.2 of CFIA's Next link will take you to another Web site 2003 Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising.

Slide 8:

Specific amount of food

Compare this to the amount you eat

Nutrition Facts

bran cereal with raisins

1 cup (59 g)

Amount you eat

bran cereal with raisins

1 ½ cups



Speaker's notes:

This example shows that the amount you consume may be different than the specific amount listed in the Nutrition Facts table. You should therefore refer to the Nutrition Facts table to determine the specific amount of food listed and compare it to the amount of food that you consume.

Additional information for speaker:
For packages that are consumed as one portion (e.g., small containers of yogurt, individual-size packs of peanuts, juice-boxes), the nutrient information in the Nutrition Facts table applies to the whole package so that it is easier for people to know the amount of calories and nutrients they are consuming.

Slide 9:

The % Daily Value (% DV) is:

Nutrition Facts
Yogurt

  • used to determine whether there is a little or a lot of a nutrient in the amount of food;
  • a benchmark to evaluate the nutrient content of foods;
  • based on recommendations for a healthy diet.









Speaker's notes:

Now let's look at another component of the Nutrition Facts table - the % Daily Value.

The % Daily Value is:

  • used to determine whether there is a little or a lot of a nutrient in a specific amount of food;
  • a benchmark for evaluating the nutrient content of foods quickly and easily; and
  • based on recommendations for a healthy diet.

Slide 10:

How to use the % Daily Value

Follow these three steps:

Step 1: Look at the amount of food

Nutrition Facts are based on a specific amount of food. Compare this to the amount you eat.

Nutrition Facts - How to use the % Daily Value










Speaker's notes:

As we have just seen, the % DV provides a quick overview of the nutrient profile of a food.

How can you use the % Daily Value?

Follow these three steps to choose healthier food products:

Step 1: Look at the amount of food

Nutrition Facts are based on a specific amount of food. Compare this to the amount you eat.

Slide 11:

How to use the % Daily Value

Step 2: Read the % DV

The % DV helps you see if a specific amount of food has a little or a lot of a nutrient.

5% DV or less is a little
15% DV or more is a lot

Nutrition Facts

Speaker's notes:

Step 2: Read the % Daily Value.

The % DV helps you see if a specific amount of food has a little or a lot of a nutrient.

As a rule of thumb, remember the following numbers:

5% DV or less is a little.
15% DV or more is a lot.

This applies to all nutrients in the Nutrition Facts table.

Slide 12:

How to use the % Daily Value

Step 3: Choose

Make a better choice for you. Here are some nutrients you may want...

more of...

  • Fibre
  • Vitamin A
  • Calcium
  • Iron

less of...

  • Fat
  • Saturated and trans fats
  • Sodium







Speaker's notes:

Step 3: Choose.
Make a better choice for you.

You may want to look for food products with higher % DVs for fibre, vitamin A, calcium and iron.

You may also want to look for foods with lower % DVs for fat, saturated and trans fats, and sodium.

Remember to compare similar amounts of food.

Additional information for speaker:
There is no mention of vitamin C in the nutrients to increase list, but for some individuals, it could be a nutrient to increase. Vegetables and fruit are the best food sources of vitamin C.

Slide 13:

For example, if you would like to eat more fiber...

Cereal A

Nutrition Facts - Cereal A
Cereal B

Nutrition Facts - Cereal B

...cereal A would be a better choice for you as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Remember: 5% DV or less is a little and 15% DV or more is a lot.

Speaker's notes:

Now let's see how we can use what we have just learned to choose a cereal that would provide more fibre.

Here are 2 Nutrition Facts tables for cereals A and B. You can compare these 2 products since their weights in grams, 28 g and 30 g, are similar.

Cereal A provides 28% of the Daily Value for fibre, whereas cereal B provides 4 % DV. Cereal A would be a better choice for you as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Remember: 5% DV or less is a little and 15% DV or more is a lot.

Additional information for speaker:
When comparing similar food products, such as these two cereals, you should compare the amount of food by weight or volume (usually given in g or mL). This way, you are certain that you are comparing similar amounts of food.

You may also be able to compare products that don't have similar amounts of food. For example, you could compare the % DVs of a bagel (90 g) to the % DVs of 2 slices of bread (70 g) because you would most likely eat either amount of food at one meal. It is also appropriate to compare the % DV listed for calcium in two single servings of yogurt, one containing 125 g of yogurt and the other containing 175 g, as they are both sizes that you would eat at one sitting.

Slide 14:

The Ingredient List

  • Lists all of the ingredients for a food by weight, from the most to the least.

    Example:
    Ingredients: whole grain rolled oats, sugar, high monounsaturated canola oil, almond pieces, raisins, golden syrup, salt, crisp rice (rice flour, soy protein, sugar, malt, salt), soy lecithin, natural flavour

  • Is a source of information for certain nutrients.
  • Is a source of information for people with food allergies.

Speaker's notes:

We have just reviewed how the Nutrition Facts can help you make informed decisions.

Food labelling regulations also provide for additional information to help consumers. The list of ingredients, which is mandatory, can also help you make informed food choices. It is important to know that the ingredients are always listed in descending order by weight with the item in the greatest amount listed first. This can help you choose between products. In the example shown on this slide, whole grain rolled oats is the ingredient in the greatest amount since it is listed first.

The list of ingredients is:

  • a source of certain nutrient information; and
  • a source of information for people with food allergies or health concerns or for people who avoid certain ingredients based on their beliefs.

Additional information for speaker:
The ingredient list is a source of certain nutrient information. For example, the ingredient list will show if the food contains added sugars such as corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, golden syrup, malt syrup, invert sugar and concentrated fruit juice.

Slide 15:

Nutrition Claims

  • Are regulated statements made when a food meets certain criteria.
  • They are optional, and may be found only on some food products.

Speaker's notes:

Nutrition claims, which are optional, can also help you make informed food choices by highlighting a feature of interest in the food, such as "good source of vitamin C."

Federal government regulations and guidelines specify the criteria a food must meet before a claim can be made, and the wording of the claim to ensure that they are consistent and not misleading.

Additional information for speaker:
Nutrition claims are also referred to as nutrient content claims.

Background information for speaker:
More information on nutrition claims is posted on the Next link will take you to another Web site Canadian Food Inspection Agency's Web site.

Slide 16:

Nutrition Claims

When you want to decrease the amount of certain nutrients, look for:

Free

  • none or hardly any of this nutrient
  • an example is "sodium free"

Low

  • a small amount
  • an example is "low fat"

Reduced

  • at least 25% less of the nutrient compared with a similar product
  • an example is "reduced in Calories"

Light

  • can be used on foods that are reduced in fat or reduced in Calories

Speaker's notes:

Here are examples of nutrition claims that can help you choose foods to decrease your intake of certain nutrients, such as fat or sodium.

Additional information for speaker:
To be able to use these nutrition claims, the food product must meet specific criteria. For example:

  • for "sodium free", the product must have less than 5 mg of sodium per specific amount of food and per a pre-set amount of food specified in the regulations, the reference amount;
  • in order to be able to say the product is "low in fat", the product must have 3 g or less of fat per specific amount of food and per reference amount.

Slide 17:

Nutrition Claims

When you want to increase the amount of certain nutrients, look for:

Source

  • contains a significant amount of the nutrient
  • an example is "source of fibre"

High or good source

  • contains a high amount of the nutrient
  • an example is "high in vitamin C"

Very high or excellent source

  • contains a very high amount of the nutrient
  • an example is "excellent source of calcium"

Speaker's notes:

Here are examples of nutrition claims that indicate a food has more of certain nutrients which you may want to increase, such as iron, calcium or fibre.

Because nutrition claims are optional and only highlight one nutrient, you may still need to refer to the Nutrition Facts table to make informed food choices.

Additional information for speaker:
To be able to use these nutrition claims, the food must meet specific criteria. For example:

  • the claim "source of fibre" indicates that the product must have 2 g or more of fibre per specific amount of food and per reference amount.
  • to be able to say the product is "high in fibre", the product must have 4 g or more of fibre per specific amount of food and per reference amount.
  • for a product to have the claim "very high in fibre", the product must have at least 6 g of fibre per specific amount of food and per reference amount.
  • for most vitamins and minerals, a "source" indicates that a serving of the food contains at least 5% of the Daily value, as indicated in the Nutrition Facts table.

Slide 18:

Health Claims

Disease risk reduction claims

Example: "A healthy diet low in saturated and trans fats may reduce the risk of heart disease. (Naming the food) is free of saturated and trans fats."

Speaker's notes:

There are also five health claims on how diet affects health and the reduction of the risk of disease. This slide shows an example of one of the four claims that start with the wording "A healthy diet...".

"A healthy diet low in saturated and trans fats may reduce the risk of heart disease. (Naming the food) is free of saturated and trans fats."

Federal government regulations specify the criteria a food must meet before a claim can be made, and the wording of the claim to ensure that they are consistent and not misleading.

Because health claims are optional and only highlight a few key nutrients or foods, you may still need to refer to the Nutrition Facts table to make food choices that are better for you.

Additional information for speaker:
The other disease risk reduction claims are:

  • a healthy diet with adequate calcium and vitamin D, and regular physical activity, help to achieve strong bones and may reduce the risk of osteoporosis;
  • a healthy diet rich in vegetables and fruit may help reduce the risk of some types of cancer; and
  • a healthy diet containing foods high in potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure, a risk factor for stroke and heart disease.
  • "[serving size from Nutrition Facts table in metric and common household measures] of [naming the product] provides X% of the daily amount of plant sterols shown to help reduce/lower cholesterol in adults."

Background information for speaker:
More information on health claims is posted on the Next link will take you to another Web site Canadian Food Inspection Agency Web site.

Slide 19:

General Health Claims

  • General health claims are generally developed by third parties or corporations.
  • Consumers should not solely rely on health claims to make informed food choices.

Speaker's notes:

As we have just seen, the Nutrition Facts table, the list of ingredients, nutrition claims and some health claims are regulated by Health Canada. These elements of nutrition labelling provide reliable and useful information.

Other types of claims, often referred to as general health claims, have appeared in recent years on front-of-package labelling. They include broad "healthy for you" or "healthy choice" claims as well as symbols, logos and specific words. These claims are generally developed by third parties or corporations based on information that is closely regulated by the federal government.

While it is required that this information be truthful and not misleading, consumers should not rely solely on general health claims to make informed food choices.

Slide 20:

Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide

www.healthcanada.gc.ca/foodguide

Speaker's notes:

Now that we have reviewed how the nutrition information on labels can help us make informed food choices, let's see how it ties in with Canada's Food Guide.

Canada's Food Guide will help you and your family know the amount and type of food you need, and the importance of physical activity in your day. The Food Guide provides detailed information on the amount and type of food to choose within each of the four food groups based on age and gender.

The Food Guide also recommends using the Nutrition Facts table to help you make informed food choices.

The next few slides will show you how to use nutrition labelling to help you follow the recommendations contained in Canada's Food Guide.

Slide 21:

Vegetables and Fruit

Canada's Food Guide Messages

  • Eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day.
  • Choose vegetables and fruit prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt.
  • Have vegetables and fruit more often than juice.

Low sodium vegetable juice

Nutrition Label - sodium reduced canned vegetable

5 % DV or less is a little

Speaker's notes:

Nutrition labelling is a tool to support healthy eating.

Consumption of vegetables and fruit is encouraged by Canada's Food Guide.

Fresh vegetables and fruit do not carry a Nutrition Facts table, because they are exempt from the nutrition labelling regulations.

However, for canned, frozen and other types of prepackaged Vegetables and Fruit, the Nutrition Facts table can help you follow Canada's Food Guide recommendations, such as choose vegetables and fruit prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt. For example, a low sodium vegetable juice provides a 5% Daily Value for sodium as seen on the Nutrition Facts table on this slide. Remember: 5 % DV or less is a little.

Slide 22:

Grain Products

Canada's Food Guide Messages

  • Make at least half of your grain products whole grain each day.
  • Choose grain products that are lower in fat, sugar or salt.



Crackers

Nutrition Facts - Crackers

5 % DV or less is a little

Speaker's notes:

The list of ingredients can help you follow Canada's Food Guide's recommendations by helping you choose Grain Products made of whole grains, such as whole grain wheat, dehulled barley, rolled oats or wild rice.

Use the Nutrition Facts table to help choose products that are lower in fat, sugar or salt.

Slide 23:

Milk and Alternatives

Canada's Food Guide Messages

  • Drink skim, 1% or 2% milk each day (or fortified soy beverages).
  • Select lower fat milk alternatives.


Cheese

Nutrition Facts per 1 slice of cheese (30 g)

Part Skim Cheese

Nutrition Facts per 1 slice of part skim cheese (33 g)

15 % DV or more is a lot

Speaker's notes:

For the Milk and Alternatives group, Canada's Food Guide recommends to drink skim, 1% or 2% milk (or fortified soy beverages) each day and to select lower fat milk alternatives.

As you can see in this example, the % Daily Value in the Nutrition Facts table can help you compare and select these lower fat milk alternatives.

Additional information for speaker:
Ranges for amounts of food indicated on the label exist because foods of the same type vary in size and weight. In the case of cheese, the reference amount is 30 g, but a serving size range of 15-60 g exists to accommodate cheeses sold in discreet units of different sizes and density. This will avoid some unreasonable fractions, such as 1.3 slices of cheese as a portion.

Slide 24:

Meat and Alternatives

Canada's Food Guide Messages

  • Have meat alternatives such as beans, lentils and tofu often.
  • Eat at least two Food Guide Servings of fish each week.
  • Select lean meat and alternatives prepared with little or no added fat or salt.


Tuna

Nutrition Facts per 1/2 can of tuna 

5% DV or less is a little

Speaker's notes:

This slide shows Canada's Food Guide messages related to the Meat and Alternatives group.

You can use the % Daily Value in the Nutrition Facts table to select lean meat and alternatives prepared with little or no added fat or salt.

Slide 25:

Oils and Fats

Canada's Food Guide Messages

  • Include a small amount - 30 to 45 mL (2 to 3 Tbsp) - of unsaturated fat each day.
  • Use vegetable oils such as canola, olive and soybean.
  • Choose soft margarines that are low in saturated and trans fats.


Non-hydrogenated margarine 

Nutrition Facts per 2 tsp (10 g) of non-hydrogenated margarine

5% DV or less is a little

Speaker's notes:

The type and the amount of fat you eat are important. Some types of fat, like saturated and trans fats, may increase your risk of developing heart disease and should be limited. Replace saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fat to help lower your risk.

Include a small amount (2-3 tablespoons or 30-45 mL) of unsaturated fat each day. Even though it is a "good fat," having too much may lead to having too many calories, which may cause weight gain and increase your risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer. Eat unsaturated fat in small amounts.

As you can see in this Nutrition Facts table, the % Daily Value for saturated and trans fats is 5 %. Remember, 5% DV or less is a little.

Slide 26:

Canada's Food Guide recommends to Read the label

  • Compare the Nutrition Facts table on food labels to choose products that contain less fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and sodium.
  • The calories and nutrients listed are for the specific amount of food found at the top of the Nutrition Facts table.
Nutrition Facts

Speaker's notes:

Use the Nutrition Facts table on food labels to help you choose products that contain less fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and sodium.

Keep in mind that the calories and nutrients listed are for the specific amount of food found at the top of the Nutrition Facts table. Compare this to the amount you eat.

Slide 27:

Nutrition Labelling Summary

  • √ Use Nutrition Facts, the ingredient list, nutrition claims and health claims to make informed food choices.
  • √ Nutrition Facts are based on a specific amount of food - compare this to the amount you eat.
  • √ Use the % Daily Value to see if a food has a little or a lot of a nutrient. Remember:
  • 5% DV or less is a little, 15 % DV or more is a lot.

Speaker's notes:

To summarize today's presentation, here are the key points to help you use the nutrition information:

  • Use Nutrition Facts, the ingredient list, the nutrition claims and the health claims to make informed food choices.
  • Nutrition Facts are based on a specific amount of food - compare this to the amount you eat.
  • Use the % Daily Value to see if a food has a little or a lot of a nutrient.
    Remember: 5% DV or less is a little, 15 % DV or more is a lot.

Slide 28:

Use nutrition information on food labels to help you make better food choices.

For more information, visit:
www.healthcanada.gc.ca/nutritionlabelling

Speaker's notes:

Whether it's the Nutrition Facts, the ingredient list, the nutrition or health claims on the label, you can use the information to compare products and make healthy choices for you and your family. Eating well and being active are steps towards better health and a healthy body weight.

For more information, visit Health Canada's Web site.

Thank you.