Government Launches Food Consultations to Help Canadians Make Healthy Choices
Front-of-package symbol will identify foods high in sodium, sugars, or saturated fat
February 9, 2018 - Ottawa, Ontario - Health Canada
Canadians are struggling with high rates of chronic diseases. Two in five Canadian adults report having one of the most common chronic diseases, which include heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. Even more worrisome, some of these chronic conditions are starting to show up in our children.
The Government of Canada is taking action to make it easier for Canadians to make healthier food choices. Poor diets – including those that are high in sodium, sugars, or saturated fat – are a primary risk factor for diseases such as cancer, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
The Minister of Health, the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, today announced that Health Canada will launch consultations on regulations for a new front-of-package nutrition symbol on food. This is part of Health Canada’s Healthy Eating Strategy.
Every day, Canadians make hundreds of food choices, often in a matter of seconds, and the front of a food package is the first place they look for information. A front-of-package symbol will provide a clear visual cue that a food is high in nutrients of public health concern, such as sodium, sugars, or saturated fat. This symbol will complement the Nutrition Facts table on the back or side of the food package.
In order to receive feedback from Canadians before making a final decision on the symbol that will appear on foods high in nutrients of public concern, Health Canada launched consultations on the proposed front-of-package symbol earlier today.
A front-of-package symbol represents significant and important progress towards achieving the goals of Health Canada’s Healthy Eating Strategy, which takes a reasonable and responsible approach to addressing chronic disease in Canada.
“The consultations launched today are geared towards helping Canadians make healthier food choices. Identifying foods that are high in sodium, sugars, or saturated fat is not always easy, and this front-of-package symbol will make it clearer while shopping for groceries. I invite all Canadians to participate in the process by giving us feedback on the proposed symbols.”
The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health
“Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular physical activity and healthy eating helps prevent chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Healthy living is about choosing healthy options like reducing our intake of foods that are high in sodium, sugars and saturated fat. It’s the small, daily choices we make that can set the foundation for ourselves and for our children to lead healthier lives.”
Dr. Theresa Tam
Chief Public Health Officer
“The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada fully supports the proposal to require a front-of-package nutrition symbol on food and beverage products as one important way to improve the health of Canadians. Adding labels that are clearly visible and easy to understand will help steer consumers away from unhealthy products high in sugars, sodium and saturated fat and support them to make healthy choices.”
CEO, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
“This front-of-package labelling will help Canadians to more quickly compare products and make healthier food choices for their households. A regulated requirement will also encourage product innovation, providing more food products that are lower in sodium, sugars and saturated fat. Dietitians of Canada will draw on the collective expertise of our members, with their diverse roles across the food and health systems, to contribute to the finalization of this new regulation.”
CEO, Dietitians of Canada
“The overconsumption of foods high in sugars, saturated fat and sodium has had terrible effects on the health of Canadians, increasing the burden of diet-related chronic disease in this country. Diabetes Canada supports Health Canada’s actions to better inform Canadians about the content of their food and beverages. The proposed front-of-package labelling regulations will offer simple, clear messaging to consumers about nutrients of concern and make the healthier choice the easier choice.”
Dr. Jan Hux
President, Diabetes Canada
“Educating the public on healthy eating is no longer sufficient and must be supported by policies and regulatory action. For the Coalition québécoise sur la problématique du poids, the front-of-package labelling initiative will help to provide consumers with the facts, and encourage the industry to improve the quality of certain products.”
Director, Coalition Poids
Processed foods are a major source of sodium, sugars and saturated fat in our diets.
Research indicates that Canadians consume too much of these nutrients. For example, approximately 8 in 10 Canadians consume too much sodium. This number is even higher in children. Almost 1 in 2 Canadians eat too much saturated fat.
Health Canada brought in regulations last year to update the Nutrition Facts table and list of ingredients to make it easier for Canadians to use and understand them.
Office of Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health
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