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Canada’s proposed Nutrition Label changes emphasize calories, sugar

By Maggie Hennessy , 16-Jul-2014
Last updated on 17-Jul-2014 at 00:49 GMT

Proposed Nutrition Facts changes, from Health Canada
Proposed Nutrition Facts changes, from Health Canada

Health Canada is proposing changes to nutrition labels that would make them easier for consumers to read. 

The proposed changes would place greater emphasis on calories (moving it up and making it bigger an bolder) and change how ingredients are listed, including grouping sugars together so consumers have a clearer picture of how much sugar is added to the food. 

Health Canada proposes to group in the upper part of the nutrition label those nutrients Canadians may want less of, and in the lower part of the table are the nutrients that Canadians may want more of.

A message would also be added to the bottom of the Nutrition Facts panel to remind people how to use the % Daily Value designation. It would read, "5% DV or less is a little, 15% DV or more is a lot."

Another key proposal is to provide guidelines to the industry to make serving sizes displayed in the Nutrition Facts list more consistent among similar products.

Canada's proposal reflects a similar one put forth earlier this year by the US Food and Drug Administration (which would also emphasize calories and include a line for added sugar - see here ), But there are a few differences; among them, the proposed Canadian labels wouldn't contain a "servings per container" designation, nor would they contain a %DV for cholesterol (which is not on the current label, either). 

Earlier this year, our government consulted with parents and consumers on ways to improve the way information is presented on food labels,” Health Minister Rona Ambrose said in a statement. “We are proposing changes to the nutrition information on food labels, based on what we heard. These changes will make it easier to read and understand labels and help Canadians make healthy food choices for themselves and their families."

Ambrose launched a series of online, public consultations on the proposals that will run until Sept. 11.

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