Leave Your Mark: Nutrition Labelling

Today’s post comes from Maryam Kebbe. Maryam is a PhD student in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Alberta. She is also the current Chair of the University of Alberta’s CON-SNP and the Bilingual Communications Coordinator of the CON-SNP National Executive. You can find more about Maryam here!


What is nutrition labelling?

Nutrition labelling is information found on labels of all prepackage foods as mandated a decade ago in Canada [1].

What constitutes a nutrition label?

At a minimum, a nutrition label includes a (i) Nutrition Facts table (e.g., serving size, calories, 13 core nutrients) and (ii) ingredient list [1].

Why are nutrition labels important?

An unhealthy diet, normally characterized by consumption of foods high in saturated fat, sugars, and sodium, is a top risk factor for obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Nutrition labels provide us with the necessary information to make healthy food choices. By comparing and contrasting labels of different food items, we can make decisions on which products are a better option for our individual end outcomes, from limiting the amount of fat, sugar, and/or cholesterol to increasing the amount of fiber, calcium, and/or iron in our diets.

Health Canada has undertaken several initiatives in relation to food and nutrition; these include a revised Canada’s Food Guide [2] and now, a consultation on Nutrition Labelling. As part of the Healthy Eating Strategy for Canada launched on October 24, 2016, Health Canada is proposing mandatory front-of-package labelling for foods high in saturated fat, sugars, and/or sodium. The aim is three-fold: to (i) facilitate the process of choosing the healthy option by informing consumers of a product’s nutritional quality in a quick and easy way, (ii) help to improve the nutritional quality of packaged foods, and (iii) help health professionals educate consumers [3].

Specifically, Health Canada is seeking consultation on the ideal nutrition symbol for the front-of-package labelling of food packages in Canada. This consultation will remain open to the public until April 26th, 2018; you may take part online by clicking here.

References

[1] https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/food-labelling/nutrition-labelling.html

[2] https://www.canada.ca/en/services/health/publications/food-nutrition/canada-food-guide-phase2-what-we-heard.html

[3] https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/programs/consultation-front-of-package-nutrition-labelling-cgi.html