Nutrient Value of Some Common Foods Frequently Asked Questions

How does the booklet differ from the Canadian Nutrient File (CNF)?

Nutrient Value of Some Common Foods (NVSCF) is a condensed version of the CNF. It contains information on nutrients of public interest for 1100 foods by household measures whereas the CNF contains information for 5690 foods with up to 152 nutrients for 100g of the edible portion of the food. NVSCF is a publication that can be printed from the Web while the CNF files can be downloaded or accessed through the searchable interface on the CNF website.

What is the purpose of the booklet?

It's a useful reference for health professionals and Canadians who require information on nutrient values when making food choices, especially those individuals addressing health issues through dietary management.

Who uses it?

Health professionals and interested Canadians

What has changed since the 1999 publication?

In this latest version of NVSCF, the emphasis is on mixed dishes rather than individual ingredients (e.g. lasagna, chicken fajitas, club sandwich).

The set of 19 nutrients now varies for different food groupings. Nutrients relevant to one specific food group may not be as important to another. When nutrients do not contribute significantly, emphasis is now directed towards components more specific to the group.

How do I obtain a copy?

How were the foods chosen for the booklet?

Foods and mixed dishes commonly consumed in Canada, according to data from food consumption and nutrition surveys, as well as similar foods within the same food category were selected to allow for comparison.

Where does the nutrient data come from?

The data is derived from the Canadian Nutrient File (CNF).  The CNF obtains data from various sources: the Nutrient Database for Standard Reference from the  United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the scientific literature, Canadian government labs, industry, food commodity groups and recipe calculations.  All data are validated by nutrition experts within Health Canada before being included in the database.

Why are the serving sizes sometimes different than the Food Guide?

We have tried to use serving sizes that Canadians would consume in one sitting. These amounts are not always identical to the serving sizes displayed on Canada's Food Guide, which are determined for the purpose of providing healthy patterns of eating for a wide range of ages and gender.

Why are some foods classified in groups differently than the Food Guide?

Some foods have been re-categorized to better allow comparison between similar foods. For this reason, foods found in some categories will not match those displayed in Canada's Food Guide.

Foods commonly consumed by Canadians have been chosen and listed alphabetically under 17 general food headings. This classification allows the user to easily locate a particular food and to compare its nutrient values to similar foods.

Why are trans fats not included in the booklet?

Although trans fats are of public interest, these values could not be included in NVSCF. Most nutrient values in this booklet are generic. For example, chocolate cookies are a representative average of the most popular selling brands in Canada and do not correspond to specific brand names. The nutrient profile of individual brands can vary widely, and many companies are in the process of re-formulating due to consumer demand. For these reasons, the most reliable way to determine trans fat content of your pre-packaged food is to check the mandatory Nutrition Facts table found on the package.

Why is the nutrient list different for every food group?

Nutrients relevant to one specific food group may not be as important to another.  For example, cholesterol is present in meats but is not present in fruit and vegetables. When nutrients do not contribute significantly, emphasis is now directed towards components more specific to the group. This allows the addition of more detailed information on the types of fats in the fats and oils group, reporting of beta-carotene and lycopene in the fruit and vegetable groups, and inclusion of values for alcohol and caffeine in the beverage group.

Why are many foods generic and certain foods Brand name specific?

Most nutrient values in this booklet are generic. Generic foods are a representative average of the most popular selling brands in Canada and do not correspond to specific brand names. For some food categories, data on brand names have been provided since these foods have a specific nutrient profile.

Who do I contact if I have questions or comments?

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