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Health Canada has announced changes it would like to see on nutrition labels, so consumers make healthier choices at the grocery store. Changes include clearer serving size information, more direct sugar and colour content descriptions and information to help people interpret daily-recommended levels of various nutrients.
Sugar in the spotlight
Here’s a rundown of the nine major changes Health Canada is proposing:
1. The calorie count of an item will be enlarged so you can’t miss it.
2. All sugars in a food will be grouped as a single ingredient, like this: Sugars (fancy molasses, brown sugar, sugar). This will mean sugars will now be listed as the top ingredient by volume in many foods.
3. Other ingredients will be more clearly marked, including food allergens, gluten sources and added sulphites.
4. Food colours will be listed by their common name, such as “Allura red.”
5. Serving sizes will be more uniform between products. So if yogurt A describes a serving as 1/2 cup (175 g), so will yogurt B. This is currently not the case.
6. There will be an added line about how to interpret the percent daily value (% DV) to help consumers who are looking to increase or decrease their intake of a nutrient—five percent or less “is a little” and 15 percent or more “is a lot.”
7. A percent daily value will be added for sugar, based on a 100 g limit.
8. A percent daily value will be added for potassium. Most Canadians are not
getting enough of this nutrient, says Health Canada.
9. Vitamin A and vitamin C will be dropped from the label because most Canadians get enough of these nutrients in their diets, says Health Canada.
Some critics, however, think the new labelling doesn’t go far enough. Bill Jeffery, the national coordinator for the Centre for Science in the Public Interest told the Canadian Medical Association Journal that proposed labels would be hard to distinguish from the current labels. More importantly, the labels don’t use the term “added sugars,” which many health professionals say is crucial to distinguishing between a natural sugar from, say, fruit, and refined sugars.
Want to offer feedback on the proposed changes? Canadians have until August 27 to comment on the regulations before they are finalized.
Read on for more on how to read current nutrition labels and how to check if you’re eating too much sugar.