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Updates to Canadian food labelling requirements

Following swiftly on from similar changes in the United States, on 14th December 2016, Health Canada announced changes to certain labelling elements, predominantly surrounding nutrition and ingredient labelling. Labels in the new format may be observed as soon as 2017. Included are the first changes to the Nutrition Facts Table (NFT) since its inception in 2003, both in substance and in appearance, and declaration of ingredients, bringing food labels up to date with the dietary concerns and health requirements of today's Canadian population.

What has changed?

Nutrition Facts Table (NFT)

Much like the United States, Canada has made significant changes to its Nutrition Facts Table, or NFT as it is known in Canada, to reflect the needs and consumption patterns of Canadians. It should be noted, however, that the new Canadian requirements have now diverged further from the requirements in the United States; it will be impossible to create a panel that complies with each market.

Among the Canadian requirements are the following:

Serving Size: Similar to the USA, packages containing up to 200% of the reference amount will require declaration of information per whole container, rather than the 150% required at present for packages over 100g/100ml. Certain serving sizes are standardised for ease of comparison (for yoghurt, for instance) and some serving sizes are changed based on how they are typically eaten (such as bread, which is usually consumed 2 slices at a time, which will have information declared per 2 slices).

Vitamins and Minerals Declared: Similar to the USA, Vitamins A and C are no longer mandatory. Potassium is required, but not vitamin D such as in the USA. Discrete values for vitamins and minerals are now required. Sugars have been given a daily value of 100g, which is a point of difference with the USA, and therefore the % Daily Value needs declaring for this.

Nutrient Display: Lines between types of fat and types of sugars have been removed, so the grouping is obvious. The order has been manipulated to show carbohydrate levels below fat, and sodium levels close to the vitamins and minerals. The serving size and calorie declaration have been changed for better emphasis. Finally, words that are the same in English and French on the NFT need not be repeated.

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