Health Canada recently announced that Front-of-package labelling changes for foods are set to come into effect on July 20, 2022, but the industry will have until January 1, 2026, to comply. A new front-of-package nutrition symbol will be required for prepackaged foods high in sodium, sugars, and saturated fat.
It is likely that those foods that are deemed to be high in saturated fat and sodium will wait as late as possible to implement these symbols. Many businesses may have excessive labels remaining in stock to be used, prior to implementing this change
Nutrition Facts Table and Food Label Improvements:
In recent months, Health Canada has made several improvements to the Nutrition Facts Table and the list of ingredients on food labels to make them easier to understand. You can expect the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to verify the compliance requirements and implement enforcement discretion for detailed plans to meet the new requirements by December 14, 2022.
The black and white magnifying symbol displayed above along with the text will need to be seen on the upper right portion of the label with an accurate bilingual translation for English & French. In this blog, we’ll detail the products that require the label, those that are exempt, and the related exemptions.
Why is a front-of-package Health Canada Nutrition Symbol Food Label Change required?
Eating foods on an ongoing basis that are high in saturated fat, sodium, and sugar can increase your risk of getting a variety of health conditions? Some conditions include:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Type of cancers
- Heart disease
This label change (addition of the nutrition symbol) will help you make quick and informed choices when shopping for groceries while supporting health professionals in educating their patients.
Foods that will require the Nutrition Symbol Food Label Change include:
- Prepackaged foods that have a small amount of the average food a person would consume in a single sitting (reference amount). This food product would also exceed 10% of the daily value of sugar, sodium, and/or saturated fats (i.e. salad dressing, cereal, pickles, and cookies).
- Prepackaged processed meals with a (reference amount) that is over 200 grams that are more or the same as 30% of your daily value of sugars, sodium, or saturated fat such as meat pie, pizza, and lasagna.
- Other general prepackaged foods that meet or are equal to 15% of the daily value of fat, sugars, sodium, or saturated fat such as soup, frozen dessert, puddings, or deli meats.
Foods that will NOT require the Nutrition Symbol Food Label Change include:
- If food is formulated to meet the requirements of specific populations like rations for the military’s personal use.
- Food that has recognized health protection benefits like fresh, frozen, or dried fruits and vegetables, 2% milk, eggs, food with a healthy fat profile, vegetable oils, nuts, and fatty fish. Any combination of these foods can also be exempt assuming they don’t include ingredients that contain sugar, sodium, and saturated fat.
- Food that is a source of nutrients that are not available in other foods and most Canadians need to get more of like yogurt, and cheese and are made from dairy products that contain calcium.
Health Canada Identified Technical and Practical Exemptions for the Nutrition Symbol Food Label:
- Foods that are not sold to consumers or foods in small packages like creamers and coffee.
- Single-ingredient ground meat and raw poultry.
- Foods where a nutrition symbol would be extremely redundant (i.e. butter, salt, and sugar).
- If food doesn’t require a Nutrition Facts Table (i.e., raw or single-ingredient whole meats).
Health Canada Food Label Changes for Nutrition Symbol Exemptions Reassessment:
After 10 years, more details will be available with the publishing of the regulations in Canada Gazette, Part 2. Stay tuned for more regulatory updates. We were involved early in the consultation of these Nutrition Symbol labelling changes. There were some interesting variations, but at that time this was the most popular version.