Everything about Food Labels in Canada

0
532
Everything about Food Labels in Canada

Food labels are found on packaged food to help you make informed food choices. They provide the following information:

  • Nutrition facts table
  • Serving size
  • List of ingredients
  • Nutrition claims
  • Health claims
  • Percent daily value

NUTRITION FACTS TABLES

Food Labels in Canada

By law, most packaged food in Canada must have a nutrition facts table. A nutrition facts table can help you make informed food choices when grocery shopping and preparing food at home. It gives you information on:

  • serving size
  • calories
  • % DV

It also gives you information on the 13 core nutrients:

  1. fat
  2. saturated
  3. trans fats
  4. cholesterol
  5. sodium
  6. carbohydrate
  7. fibre
  8. sugars
  9. protein
  10. vitamin A
  11. vitamin C
  12. calcium
  13. iron

The information in a nutrition facts table is based on the serving size. Serving size can be found at the top of the nutrition facts table.

You can use a nutrition facts table to compare the serving size to the amount of food you actually eat.

For example, the serving size of bread in a nutrition facts table could be 1 slice. But if you eat 2 slices, you need to double the amount of calories and nutrients.

A nutrition facts table can also be used to:

  • learn about a food’s nutritional value (calories and nutrients)
  • see if a food contains a little (5% DV or less) or a lot (15% DV or more) of a nutrient
  • compare 2 products to make informed food choices
  • better manage special food needs such as a low-sodium diet

Foods that do not have a nutrition facts table:

  • fresh vegetables and fruit
  • raw meat and poultry (except when it is ground)
  • raw seafood
  • one-bite confections that are individually sold
  • milk sold in refillable glass containers
  • individual servings of food meant to be eaten immediately
  • foods prepared or processed in-store made from its ingredients, such as bakery items and salads

You will not find a nutrition facts table on foods that contain very few nutrients, such as: coffee, tea, vinegar, spices.

SERVING SIZE

Information in the nutrition facts table is based on a quantity called serving size. It is listed at the top of the table. Serving size is not necessarily the suggested quantity of food you should eat. The serving size tells you the quantity of food used to calculate the numbers in the nutrition facts table.

Serving size is listed in a common household measure. It also is listed in grams or millilitres depending on the type of food.

Common household measures include:

  • a fraction of a food such as 1/4 pizza (90 g)
  • number of pieces such as 4 crackers (20 g)
  • cups, teaspoons or tablespoons (3/4 cup of yogurt [175 g] or 1 tablespoon of peanut butter [15 g])

The percent daily value (% DV) tells you if the serving size has a little or a lot of a particular nutrient.

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

EXAMPLE: Let’s take cereal with a serving size of 1/2 cup (28 g) as an example.

  • If you eat 1 cup of cereal (56 g), double the amount of calories and nutrients.
  • If the amount of calories in a 1/2 cup (28 g) of cereal is 150 calories, then the amount of calories in 1 cup (56 g) of cereal is 300 calories.
  • If the % DV for fibre in 1/2 cup (28 g) of cereal is 7%, then the % DV for fibre in 1 cup (56 g) of cereal is 14%.

INGREDIENT LIST

The ingredient list shows all the ingredients in a packaged food. Ingredients are listed in order of weight, beginning with the ingredient that weighs the most and ending with the ingredient that weighs the least. This means that a food contains more of the ingredients found at the beginning of the list, and less of the ingredients at the end of the list.

Reading the ingredient list is both important and useful. It can help you:

  • Check if a food product has a certain ingredient.
  • Avoid ingredients in case of a food allergy or intolerance.

Ingredients with many names

Sometimes nutrients like saturated and trans fats, sodium, and sugar appear on ingredient lists under many different names. Here’s a list of the most commonly used terms.

 

Saturated fat ·         Bacon

·         Beef fat

·         Butter

·         Chicken fat

·         Cocoa butter

·         Coconut or coconut oil

·         Hydrogenated fats and oils

·         Lard

·         Palm or palm kernel oil

·         Powdered whole milk solids

·         Shortening

·         Suet

·         Tallow

Trans fat
  • Hard margarine
  • Hydrogenated fats and oils
  • Partially hydrogenated fats and oils
  • Shortening
Sodium
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Brine
  • Celery salt
  • Disodium phosphate
  • Garlic salt
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Onion salt
  • Salt
  • Sodium alginate
  • Sodium benzoate
  • Sodium bisulfate
  • Sodium proprionate
  • Soy sauce
Sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Cane juice extract
  • Corn syrup
  • Demerara or Turbinado sugar
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Fructose
  • Galactose
  • Glucose
  • Glucose-fructose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Liquid sugar
  • Maltose
  • Molasses
  • Sucrose
  • Syrup
  • Treacle

Tip: A word ending in “ose” is usually sugar

 

NUTRITION CLAIMS

There are two types of nutrition claims on foods: nutrient content claims and health claims. These claims must also follow certain rules from Health Canada to make sure that they are consistent and not misleading. These claims are optional and may be found on some food products.

  • Nutrient content claims describe the amount of a nutrient in a food. “A good source of iron” is an example of a nutrient content claim.
  • Health claims are statements about the helpful effects of a certain food consumed within a healthy diet on a person’s health. For example, “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” is a health claim.

A nutrient content claim can help you choose foods that contain a nutrient you may want more of. Look for words such as:

  • Source, such as source of fibre
  • High or good source, such as high in vitamin A or good source of iron
  • Very high or excellent source, such as excellent source of calcium

A nutrient content claim can also help you choose foods that contain a nutrient you may want less of. Look for words such as:

  • Free, such as sodium free or trans fat free
  • Low, such as low fat
  • Reduced, such as reduced in Calories

Keep in mind, because nutrient claims are optional and only highlight one nutrient, you still need to refer to the Nutrition Facts table to make food choices that are better for you.

HEALTH CLAIMS: WHAT THEY MEAN

A health claim can help you choose foods that you may want to include as part of a healthy diet to reduce risk of chronic diseases. An example of a health claim is a healthy diet rich in a variety of vegetables and fruit may help reduce the risk of some types of cancer.

To make a health claim about potassium, sodium and reduced risk of high blood pressure, the food…

  • must be low in (or free of) sodium
  • may also be high in potassium
  • must be low in saturated fatty acids
  • must be limited in alcohol
  • must have more than 40 Calories if the food is not a vegetable or a fruit
  • must have a minimum amount of at least one vitamin or mineral

To make a health claim about calcium, vitamin D and regular physical activity, and reduced risk of osteoporosis, the food …

  • must be high (or very high) in calcium
  • may also be very high in vitamin D
  • cannot have more phosphorus than calcium
  • must be limited in alcohol]
  • must have more than 40 Calories if the food is not a vegetable or a fruit

To make a health claim about saturated and trans fats and reduced risk of heart disease, the food …

  • must be low in (or free of) saturated fat and trans fat
  • must be limited in cholesterol, sodium and alcohol
  • must have more than 40 Calories if the food is not a vegetable or a fruit
  • must have a minimum amount of at least one vitamin or mineral
  • must, if it is a fat or an oil, be a source of omega-3 or omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids

To make a health claim about vegetables and fruit and reduced risk of some types of cancers, the food …

  • must be a fresh, frozen, dried or canned fruit or vegetable; fruit juice; vegetable juice
  • must be limited in alcohol

PERCENT DAILY VALUE

The % DV is found on the right-hand side of a nutrition facts table. It is a guide to help you make informed food choices. It applies to all nutrients with a % DV It shows you if the serving size has a little or a lot of a nutrient:

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

The % DV for the following nutrients must be listed in the nutrition facts table:

  • fat
  • saturated and trans fats
  • sodium
  • carbohydrate
  • fibre
  • vitamin A
  • vitamin C
  • calcium
  • iron

You can use % DV to choose products that are higher in the nutrients you may want more or less of.

References:

  • http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/publications/eating-nutrition/label-etiquetage/serving-size-fact-sheet-portion-fiche-dinformation-eng.php?_ga=1.77568150.281436068.1433101282
  • http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/label-etiquetage/tips-conseils/index-eng.php
  • http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/label-etiquetage/tips-conseils/what-quoi-eng.php
  • http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/label-etiquetage/tips-conseils/nutrition-fact-valeur-nutritive-eng.php
  • http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/label-etiquetage/tips-conseils/serving-portion-eng.php
  • http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/label-etiquetage/tips-conseils/list-ingredient-liste-eng.php
  • http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/label-etiquetage/tips-conseils/claims-allegations-eng.php
  • http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/label-etiquetage/tips-conseils/health_claims-allegations_sante-eng.php
  • http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/label-etiquetage/tips-conseils/daily-value-valeur-quotidienne-eng.php
(Visited 83 times, 1 visits today)

Author: AllOntario Team

AllOntario.ca is a Problem-Solving Guide for Ontario residents and a marketplace for Ontario businesses. It’s all about living and doing business in Ontario. All in one site.