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Food and Nutrition

ARCHIVED - Questions and Answers on the 2008 National Nutritious Food Basket

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  1. What is the National Nutritious Food Basket?
  2. Why did Health Canada revise the 1998 National Nutritious Food Basket?
  3. What are the objectives of the 2008 National Nutritious Food Basket?
  4. Which foods are in the 2008 National Nutritious Food Basket?
  5. Are miscellaneous foods such as baking powder, condiments, spices, tea and sugar included in the basket?
  6. How different are the contents of the 2008 National Nutritious Food Basket from the 1998 version?
  7. How were the foods in the 2008 National Nutritious Food Basket chosen?
  8. Do the contents of the 2008 National Nutritious Food Basket reflect what Canadians are eating?
  9. How do the contents of the 2008 National Nutritious Food Basket compare to Canada's Food Guide?
  10. Can the contents of the 2008 basket be used as a "healthy eating grocery list"?
  11. Does Health Canada monitor the cost of the National Nutritious Food Basket?
  12. Can the cost of the National Nutritious Food Basket be compared between provinces/territories/regions? If not, why?
  13. Can I get a copy of the National Nutritious Food Basket?

Q1. What is the National Nutritious Food Basket?

The National Nutritious Food Basket (NNFB) describes the quantity of approximately 60 foods that represent a nutritious diet for individuals in various age and gender groups. The NNFB is used by stakeholders at the local, provincial and federal level to develop their own food costing protocols and monitor the cost of a nutritious diet in their jurisdiction. It is not intended to prescribe an ideal diet.

Q2. Why did Health Canada revise the 1998 National Nutritious Food Basket?

The 1998 version was revised to incorporate the latest dietary guidance (as contained in Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide and the Dietary Reference Intake reports) and to reflect the most current food consumption data (Canadian Community Health Survey Cycle 2.2, Nutrition, 2004).

Q3. What are the objectives of the 2008 National Nutritious Food Basket?

The objectives of the 2008 National Nutritious Food Basket are to:

  • Assist health and social service agencies to monitor the cost and affordability of a nutritious food basket for various age and sex groups, including pregnant and lactating women;
  • Assist policy and decision makers to formulate sound health, nutrition and social policies;
  • Meet energy and nutrient needs of various age and sex groups; and
  • Include a variety of foods while remaining practical for food price collectors to use (in other words, consisting of a reasonable number of items).

Q4. Which foods are in the 2008 National Nutritious Food Basket?

The 2008 National Nutritious Food Basket consists of the following foods (listed in alphabetical order): apple juice; apples; bananas; baked beans (canned); beef (ground, inside round and steak); bread (white, whole wheat, and buns); broccoli (fresh); cabbage; canola oil; cantaloupe; carrots (fresh); celery; cereals; cheddar cheese; cheese slices; chicken legs; corn (canned); crackers; cucumber; eggs; fish (frozen); grapes; green pepper; ham; iceberg lettuce; lentils (dry); margarine; mayonnaise; milk; mixed vegetables (frozen); mozzarella cheese; mushrooms; oatmeal; onions; orange juice; oranges; pasta; peaches (canned); peanuts; peanut butter; pears (fresh); peas (frozen); pita bread; plain cookies and crackers; pork chops; potatoes; raisins; rice; romaine lettuce; rutabaga/turnip; salad dressing; salmon (canned); strawberries (frozen); string beans (frozen); sweet potatoes; tomatoes (canned and fresh); tuna (canned); vegetable juice; and yogurt.

Q5. Are miscellaneous foods such as baking powder, condiments, spices, tea and sugar included in the basket?

An additional five per cent is added to the energy content and cost of the basket to reflect the consumption and purchasing of miscellaneous foods such as condiments, sugar, jams and sauces.

Q6. How different are the contents of the 2008 National Nutritious Food Basket from the 1998 version?

The differences in content between the 1998 and 2008 National Nutritious Food Basket fall into these 3 categories:

1) New foods added to the basket:

  • Cantaloupe
  • Italian salad dressing
  • Frozen strawberries
  • Mushrooms
  • Peanuts
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Whole wheat pita bread

2) Foods replaced by a substitute/similar item:

  • Canned fruit cocktail (replaced by canned peaches)
  • Dried white beans (replaced by dried lentils)
  • Flakes of corn and wheat squares cereal (replaced by bran flakes with raisin and toasted oat Os cereals)
  • Grapefruit (their popularity was combined with the popularity of oranges)
  • Medium ground beef (replaced by lean ground beef)
  • Stewing beef (replaced by beef roast)

3) Foods no longer included in the basket:

  • Butter
  • Frozen French fries
  • Ice cream
  • Macaroni and cheese dinner, dry mix
  • Wieners

Q7. How were the foods in the 2008 National Nutritious Food Basket chosen?

The foods in the 2008 National Nutritious Food Basket (NNFB) were chosen based on the recommendations in Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide and on the results of the Canadian Community Health Survey Cycle 2.2, Nutrition (CCHS 2.2). The CCHS 2.2 was conducted in 2004 and it provides the most recent information on what Canadians consume. Information from CCHS 2.2 and recommendations in Canada's Food Guide were used to confirm which foods in the 1998 NNFB should continue to be included in the revised basket and which foods needed to be added or removed. Key stakeholders also provided advice and guidance on the selection of foods for the revised basket.

Q8. Do the contents of the 2008 National Nutritious Food Basket reflect what Canadians are eating?

Overall, the contents of the food basket reflect what Canadians are eating. The revision of the 1998 basket relied on the most current information on which foods are more popular within the four food groups in Canada's Food Guide. However, the basket does not include foods that are not included in the four food groups (for example, soft drinks, confectioneries) even though these foods are part of Canadians' current eating patterns.

Q9. How do the contents of the 2008 National Nutritious Food Basket compare to Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide?

The contents of the 2008 National Nutritious Food Basket fulfill the food group-specific recommendations in Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide (for example at least half the grain products in the basket are whole-grain grain products and it includes 2 cups of milk each day). For the majority of the age-sex groups, the number of servings in the basket is either identical to or within one serving of what is recommended in Canada's Food Guide.

Q10. Can the contents of the 2008 basket be used as a "healthy eating grocery list"?

The contents of the Food Basket should not be used as or even considered a "healthy eating grocery list". The purpose of the Food Basket is to serve as a tool to monitor the cost and affordability of a nutritious diet for various age and sex groups. It is not intended to be used as a guide for food purchases or as a substitute for dietary guidance. There are many different combinations of foods that can constitute a healthy basket.

Q11. Does Health Canada monitor the cost of the National Nutritious Food Basket?

While Health Canada develops the National Nutritious Food Basket, it does not monitor its cost.

Q12. Can the cost of the National Nutritious Food Basket be compared between provinces/territories/regions? If not, why?

No. Users at the provincial/territorial/regional level develop their own unique protocols to guide the collection of food costs in their jurisdiction. The protocols may differ on a number of aspects that influence the cost of the basket (for example, sale prices, the collection of brand names versus generic food products, whether brand name products can be used, whether the lowest price item is used, the number and type of stores that are visited, the time of year the food products are collected.) Costs obtained using different protocols should not be compared.

Q13. Can I get a copy of the National Nutritious Food Basket?

The National Nutritious Food Basket (NNFB) has two parts: (1) a list of amounts of food and (2) a food costing protocol. The table below is the first part; it lists the amounts of different types of food in the basket (covering a one-week period) that meet the nutrition goals of the basket. The second part - the food costing protocol - is developed by the stakeholders who conduct food costing activities. Health Canada gives stakeholders at the local, provincial and federal level the freedom of developing their own protocols. This approach grants stakeholders the flexibility to develop protocols that meet the unique goals and circumstances of food costing activities in their jurisdiction. To obtain information on the use of the NNFB in your area, please contact your local public health unit.

Table 1: Amounts of food in the 2008 National Nutritious Food Basket, by age/sex group
  Dark green vegetables (kg) Orange vegetables (kg) Other vegetables and fruits (kg) Milk and alternatives (L) Non-whole grain products (kg) Whole grain products (kg) Eggs (unit) Fish (kg) Meat, poultry, nuts and legumes (kg) Unsatu-rated fats and oils (kg)
Males and females
2-3 y 0.67 0.62 1.29 4.49 0.33 0.35 3.5 0.20 0.30 0.21
Males
4-8 y 0.67 0.62 2.26 5.39 0.47 0.40 3.5 0.20 0.46 0.21
9-13 y 0.67 0.62 2.91 7.19 0.57 0.59 3.5 0.20 0.96 0.26
14-18 y 0.67 0.62 4.52 7.19 0.75 0.79 3.5 0.20 2.13 0.37
19-30 y 0.67 0.62 5.17 4.94 0.85 0.89 3.5 0.20 1.96 0.42
31-50 y 0.67 0.62 4.52 4.49 0.85 0.89 3.5 0.20 1.63 0.42
51-70 y 0.67 0.62 3.87 5.39 0.57 0.89 3.5 0.20 1.63 0.37
over 70 y 0.67 0.62 3.87 5.39 0.57 0.89 3.5 0.20 1.63 0.26
Females
4-8 y 0.67 0.62 2.26 5.39 0.38 0.40 3.5 0.20 0.46 0.21
9-13 y 0.67 0.62 2.58 5.84 0.57 0.59 3.5 0.20 0.63 0.26
14-18 y 0.67 0.62 3.55 6.29 0.57 0.69 3.5 0.20 0.96 0.26
19-30 y 0.67 0.62 4.20 3.59 0.66 0.74 3.5 0.20 1.30 0.32
31-50 y 0.67 0.62 3.87 4.04 0.66 0.69 3.5 0.20 1.30 0.32
51-70 y 0.67 0.62 2.91 5.39 0.57 0.59 3.5 0.20 0.96 0.21
over 70 y 0.67 0.62 2.58 5.39 0.47 0.69 3.5 0.20 0.96 0.21
Pregnancy
≤ 18 y 0.67 0.62 3.87 6.29 0.57 0.79 3.5 0.20 1.30 0.37
19-30 y 0.67 0.62 4.20 5.39 0.75 0.79 3.5 0.20 1.30 0.42
31-50 y 0.67 0.62 3.87 5.39 0.75 0.79 3.5 0.20 1.30 0.37
Lactation
≤ 18 y 0.67 0.62 4.04 7.19 0.66 0.74 3.5 0.20 1.30 0.37
19-30 y 0.67 0.62 4.20 5.39 0.75 0.79 3.5 0.20 1.63 0.42
31-50 y 0.67 0.62 3.87 5.39 0.75 0.79 3.5 0.20 1.63 0.37