Voluntary sodium reduction targets for processed foods 2020-2025

On this page

Summary

As part of its Healthy Eating Strategy, Health Canada is committed to ongoing work with food industry stakeholders to gradually and safely reduce sodium in the food supply.

Previous voluntary sodium reduction efforts have yielded modest results. Canadians, particularly children, teens and males, are still eating too much sodium.

This document sets out Health Canada's revised sodium reduction targets for processed foods.

The revised targets and categories for processed foods are similar to those established in 2012. In some cases, new categories have been created and targets have been adjusted to:

Health Canada continues to encourage and work with the food processing sector to reach these targets by 2025 and will evaluate the progress towards these targets.

Background

Sodium and health

Our bodies need a small amount of sodium to be healthy, but too much can lead to high blood pressure Footnote 1. Approximately 25% of Canadians over the age of 20 have been diagnosed with high blood pressure Footnote 2. Many others have high blood pressure without knowing it, since it develops slowly and without obvious symptoms. High blood pressure in turn is an important risk factor for stroke and heart disease Footnote 1.These two chronic diseases are the leading causes of death in Canada, after cancer Footnote 2.

Despite modest but encouraging decreases, sodium intakes remain high among Canadians. Recent estimates suggest that 6 out of 10 Canadians consume too much sodium. This number is even higher among children, teens and males of all age groups Footnote 3.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a set of interventions that address unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, including reducing sodium intakes, is highly cost-effective for improving population health Footnote 4. Therefore, reducing sodium intake can lead to important health benefits of lowering blood pressure Footnote 4. This is why sodium reduction is a priority for the Government of Canada.

Sodium reduction in Canada

Reducing sodium intakes requires changes in eating behaviour as well as decreases in the sodium content of food. In 2016, Health Canada introduced the Healthy Eating Strategy, a comprehensive approach that aims to make the healthier choice easier for all Canadians. The Strategy outlined various interventions that aim to provide Canadians with simple and important information to help them make healthier food choices, protect Canadian children from the influential advertising of food and beverages high in sodium, sugars and saturated fat, and improve the quality of the Canadian food supply.

Sodium reduction is integral to these interventions. In 2018, Health Canada introduced proposed regulations that would require a front-of-package nutrition symbol to help Canadians quickly and easily identify foods high in sodium, sugars and saturated fat. In addition, Health Canada is developing regulations to restrict the advertising of food and beverages that drive overconsumption of these nutrients by children and has revised Canada's Food Guide to provide sound dietary guidance in a useful and relevant manner to all Canadians. These measures, combined with industry efforts to reduce the amount of sodium in the food supply, are expected to create a healthier food environment and decrease the amount of sodium Canadians are consuming.

Most of the sodium we consume comes from processed and commercially prepared foods, and not from the salt we add during cooking at home or at the table. This is why, in 2012, Health Canada published voluntary sodium reduction targets for 94 categories of processed foods Footnote 5. These targets were established with the goal of achieving the average intake goal of 2300 milligrams (mg) per day by the end of 2016.

In early 2018, Health Canada published an evaluation report showing that voluntary sodium reductions in most categories of processed foods were only modest and did not meet the targets Footnote 6. Specifically, voluntary efforts by the food processing sector resulted in only an 8% decrease in average sodium intake since 2010. Recent estimates indicate that the average daily sodium intake of Canadians is 2760 mg, which is still higher than the established goal of 2300 mg per day Footnote 3. Of particular concern, 81% of children aged 1 to 3 years, 99% of children aged 4 to 8 years and over 95% of males between the ages of 14 and 30 are eating too much sodium. These results indicate that the food industry needs to do more to lower the sodium content of foods and thus support further reductions in the sodium intake of Canadians.

Approach to updating the sodium reduction targets

This document sets out Health Canada's sodium reduction targets for processed foods. The targets build on previous experience with this sector and continue to apply to processed foods sold in retail outlets as well as those destined for further processing, such as ingredients sold to foodservice establishments.

In setting the various targets, Health Canada took into consideration the current Canadian and international contexts, feedback from stakeholders, and lessons learned from the 2012 voluntary sodium reduction targets and monitoring initiative. The aim is to set sodium reduction targets that are realistic and will achieve meaningful reductions in sodium in the food supply.

In 2014, Member States of the WHO, including Canada, committed to the WHO's Global Monitoring Framework for Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) to work towards reducing global sodium intakes by 30% by 2025. Based on this commitment, Health Canada aims to achieve an average sodium intake of 2300 mg per day in the next five years. This is also consistent with the updated Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for sodium released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) in 2019 that recommended reducing sodium intakes above 2300 mg per day, to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and hypertension Footnote 7.

In 2017, Health Canada collected data to assess sodium levels in the Canadian food supply. Two data sources were used: food label and sales data for processed foods. More specifically, food labels of processed foods were collected from across Canada based on the 94 categories that had established sodium reduction targets. This information was matched with sales data (kilogram volumes) to weight the data so that it is representative of choices that are made by Canadians. This data was used as the basis for revising the processed food targets.

Health Canada acknowledges that reducing sodium can be challenging and thus encourages manufacturers explore different options to lower sodium levels in processed foods. In addition to simply use less salt, this could include using salt substitutes like potassium chloride where necessary. Potassium chloride is typically used as a partial substitute for salt in food processing and manufacturing to replace sodium chloride. The substitution of potassium chloride for sodium chloride can be advantageous since Canadians are consuming too much sodium and not enough potassium. Increased potassium intake is associated with improved blood pressure control Footnote 7. To help inform consumers of the role of potassium chloride in food, "salt substitute" can be listed in brackets following potassium chloride in the list of ingredients.

Targets for processed foods

These targets build on those published in 2012 and were to be achieved by the end of 2016 Footnote 5. They continue to apply to processed foods sold in retail outlets as well as those destined for further processing, such as ingredients and ready-to-serve items sold to restaurants and foodservice establishments.

The targets continue to have the same components: a sales weighted average (SWA) as well as a maximum level.

Components of the sodium reduction targets for processed foods

1. Sales weighted average targets are set as a concentration of sodium (milligrams of sodium per 100 grams of food)

A sales weighted average (SWA) is an average amount of sodium in each food category, taking into consideration the amount of products sold for that category in one yearFootnote A. The SWA is calculated by multiplying the sodium amount of each product within a category (mg of sodium per 100 g of product) by its volume of annual sales (kg), then summing up. This result is then divided by the total volume of sales of all products within this category for the same year (kg).

This method of calculation is considered a gold standard as it reflects product consumption more accurately than a simple average. It gives more weight to the products that Canadians purchased more, and less weight to the products that Canadians purchased less. By using the SWA target for a specific food category, manufacturers' sodium reduction efforts can be better focused on more frequently consumed food products within that category. For a company to meet the target, the SWA of all products within a category needs to be equal to, or less than the SWA target for the category (see example below).

2. Maximum level targets are set as a limit of the concentration of sodium per 100 grams of the food

Maximum level targets apply to the amount of sodium per 100 grams for individual products within a category. For a company to meet the maximum level target, all products within a category need to be equal to or less than the maximum level target (see example below).

Maximum level targets aim to encourage manufacturers to reduce the sodium added to the saltiest foods in each category. The majority of the maximum level targets correspond to the 75th percentile of the sodium levels observed in each category.

Example: Calculation of SWA for 3 varieties of crackers sold by company A under its brand name in one year
Products A
Sodium amount per serving
(mg Sodium)
B
Serving of stated size as consumed (g Product)
C = (A / B) * 100
Amount of sodium in 100g of product (mg Sodium per 100g Product)
D
Total amount of product sold (kg Product Sold)
E = C * D
Sales weighted total amount of sodium (mg Sodium per 100g Product) * kg Product Sold
Cracker variety 1 290 32 906 210705
(D1)
190898730
(E1)
Cracker variety 2 140 30 467 90931
(D2)
42464777
(E2)
Cracker variety 3 110 30 367 71195
(D3)
26128565
(E3)
Total N/A N/A N/A 372831 259492072

Sodium sales weighted average for the 3 varieties of crackers sold by company A
= "Sales weighted total amount of sodium for 3 varieties of crackers sold" divided by "Total amount of crackers sold"
= (E1 + E2 + E3) / (D1 + D2 + D3)
= 259492072 mg sodium per 100g product * kg product sold / 372831 kg product sold
= 696 mg sodium per 100 g product

Therefore, SWA for the 3 varieties of crackers sold by company A is 696 mg per 100 g

For crackers:
SWA target: 600 mg per 100 g
Maximum level target: 870 mg per 100 g

Company A's SWA, 696 mg per 100 g, did not meet the SWA target of 600 mg per 100 g. The sodium concentration of cracker variety 1 is 906 mg per 100 g and is higher than the maximum level of 870 mg per 100 g. Therefore, cracker variety 1 did not meet the maximum level target. Cracker variety 2 and cracker variety 3 have sodium concentration lower than the maximum level target of 870 mg per 100 g so those products met the maximum level target.

Changes to target categories

In general, the majority of categories and their descriptions set in 2012 were maintained. Changes were made in response to specific feedback. The following are some areas where we have made changes:

Overall, these adjustments have resulted in an increased number of target categories for processed foods from 94 to 117. This approach covers the majority of the sodium-containing processed foods in the Canadian food supply and it is similar to the approaches of the United States (125 processed food categories) and the United Kingdom (84 processed food categories).

Changes to target levels

The 2012 SWA targets Footnote 5 were designed to help achieve the average intake goal of 2300 mg per day, and thus the majority of the targets are the same as the previous levels. For new or adjusted categories, the SWA targets were set as a 15 to 20% reduction from the 2017 measured levels to align with the reduction still needed in current intakes to achieve the intake goal of 2300 mg of sodium per day (e.g., Havarti and provolone). In some cases, the SWA target was set at a level to achieve a smaller reduction from the 2017 measured levels to be more realistic and meaningful for the adjusted subcategory (e.g., raisin bread).

The SWA targets for the categories that were split, were either maintained because they were deemed as still meaningful to encourage sodium reductions, or revised either downwards or upwards depending on how the data was distributed around the average. For example, within the pantry bread and rolls category (previously 1b), the SWA target for whole wheat & mixed grain bread and rolls was adjusted downwards and the SWA target for white bread and rolls was given a higher target because these products face more challenges. Pizza crusts were pulled out from category 1b into a separate category and given a higher target because these products contained sodium preservatives for increased shelf life and were clustered at the high end of the original pantry bread and rolls category. In the case of the natural cheese category (previously 3c), the SWA target for mozzarella and cheddar was maintained (same as 2016 SWA target) but Brie and Camembert as well as Swiss cheese were given lower SWA targets that are more specific to these varieties of cheeses, which are typically lower in sodium.

For most categories, the 2025 maximum level targets were set at the 75th percentile of the 2017 category data to better reflect the current market. This includes the maximum level targets for new or adjusted categories. This acknowledges the progress industry has made in reducing sodium, and at the same time, encourages further reduction in the saltiest products within the category.

However, in a few cases, the maximum level target increased from the previous target to reflect comments received from the food industry related to technical challenges they faced when trying to reduce sodium below the 2016 maximum level targets. For example, the maximum level target for cured meats like salami (category 7g) was increased from 1400 mg to 1800 mg per 100 g, because sodium is needed to lower the water activity to ensure control of microbial growth and food safety.

For product categories that went below the 2016 SWA targets and/or maximum level targets, their targets were adjusted to reflect the 2017 measured sodium levels and to maintain the progress already achieved in the category (e.g. hard cheese, toddler mixed dishes).

Canada's sodium reduction targets for processed foods

The sales weighted average targets apply to the sales-weighted average sodium for all company products within the category. The maximum level target applies to individual products within the category. For many categories, maximum level targets were set at the 75th percentile of the 2017 measured level.

Targets for processed foods and foods destined for further processing

Note: Adjusted or new categories and revised or new targets are marked with a double star (**). Targets are set as mg sodium per 100 grams of food.

Table 1: Bakery products (Levels also apply to gluten free products)
Food Category Food Category Description 2016 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2016 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2017 Measured Level
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
1aa. English muffins** White or whole grain English muffins and crumpets. 260 400 291 260 370**
1ab. Raisin bread** Bread with raisins 260 400 355 330** 380**
1ba. White pantry bread and rolls, bagels, croissants, and flatbreads** Prepackaged white sliced breads, bagels, croissants (includes frozen doughs as consumed), flatbreads (e.g. pita, Greek flatbread), diet or low calorie breads, and pantry rolls and buns. Also includes par-baked bread and rolls. 330 520 445 360** 520
1bb. Whole wheat and mixed grain pantry bread and rolls, bagels, croissants, and flatbreads** Prepackaged whole wheat and mixed grain sliced breads (includes breads with whole wheat and mixed grains as main ingredients), bagels, croissants (includes frozen doughs as consumed), flatbreads (e.g. pita, Greek flatbread), diet or low calorie breads, and pantry rolls and buns. Also includes par-baked bread and rolls. 330 520 387 330 400**
1bc. Pizza crust** Pizza crust 330 520 466 400** 540**
1ca. Hearth bread** Bread baked directly on the hearth or in a pan without sides for crispier crusts, e.g. baguettes, crusted bread, artisan breads, rye bread, and pumpernickel bread. Also includes bread mixes and frozen dough as consumed. 470 600 504 430** 560**
1cb. Hearth and non-hearth bread with savoury additions** Hearth and non-heart bread with additions, e.g. olives, garlic, onion, and cheese. Also includes bread mixes and frozen dough as consumed. 470 600 548 470 600
1d. Tortillas and wraps Refrigerated and shelf stable plain or flavoured tortillas, wraps or naan. Excludes flatbread (see 1ba and 1bb). 550 760 571 550 670**
1e. Pie dough and shells Refrigerated or frozen pie or tart shells and dry mixes as consumed. Excludes graham cracker crusts. 250 530 376 250 370**
1f. Refrigerated dough Refrigerated fruit filled pastry, garlic bread, croissant, and dinner roll dough. Excludes refrigerated cookie dough (see 1j). 510 790 689 510 790
1g. Dry bread Melba toast, rusks, breadsticks, pita or baguette chips, and other crisp breads. Excludes breadcrumbs and croutons (see 1h). 480 860 574 480 810**
1h. Breadcrumbs, croutons, and salad toppers Plain and seasoned breadcrumbs, croutons, and salad toppers, e.g. fried chow mein noodles and wonton strips. 670 1150 762 670 1070**
1i. Crackers Plain or flavoured crackers, sandwich crackers, puffed cakes, and graham crackers, e.g. cheese crackers, soda crackers, and rice cakes. Excludes dry bread (see 1g). 600 930 752 600 870**
1j. Cookies Filled and unfilled sweet cookies, biscuits, refrigerated dough, and dry mixes as consumed. Excludes graham crackers (see 1i) and infant and toddler cookies and biscuits (see 15b). 240 390 276 240 340**
1k. Baked desserts Cakes, cheesecakes, snack cakes, pies, fruit crisps, doughnuts (yeast and cake types), pastries, sweet buns, brownies and squares, muffins and quick breads, and dry mix products as consumed. Excludes non-yeast leavened cinnamon rolls (see 1p). 230 400 315 230 400
1l. Toaster pastries Toaster pastries with fruit or other fillings. 320 400 358 320 400
1m. Granola and cereal type bars Granola bars (plain and coated), fruit filled bars, and muffin-type bars. Excludes sweet and salty bars (see 1n) and infant and toddler snack bars (see 15b). 180 340 240 180 280**
1n. Sweet and salty bars Sweet and salty granola bars. 300 400 407 300 400
1o. Pancakes, waffles, and French toast Shelf stable, frozen, refrigerated, and dry mix products as consumed. 440 650 564 440 620**
1p. Tea biscuits and scones Ready-made and dry mix tea biscuits, scones, and non-yeast leavened cinnamon rolls as consumed. 530 790 691 530 790
Table 2: Breakfast cereals
Food Category Food Category Description 2016 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2016 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2017 Measured Level
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2a. Ready-to-eat cereals Granola, muesli, shredded, flaked, puffed, extruded, and high-fibre compact cereals. 360 630 393 360 550**
2b. Hot instant cereals Plain and flavoured hot instant cereals (dry mix, as sold), e.g. oatmeal. 340 600 425 340 490**
Table 3: Dairy products and substitutes
Food Category Food Category Description 2016 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2016 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2017 Measured Level
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
3a. Cottage cheese Plain and flavoured cottage cheese. Excludes ricotta. 280 410 279 280 370**
3ba. Cream cheese and cream cheese products** Plain and flavoured (sweet or savoury) products. Includes cream cheese spread and cream cheese-style products. Excludes cream cheese based dips (see 11ea). 350 600 461 420** 500**
3bb. Goat cheese** Soft unripened goat cheese. 350 600 384 330** 470**
3ca. Brie and Camembert** Brie and Camembert
670 770 549 500** 600**
3cb. Brick, Cheddar, Colby, and Mozzarella** Brick, Colby, Mozzarella (including pasta filata), string cheese, and mild, medium and old Cheddar. Excludes fresh mozzarella and cheese curds. 670 770 716 670 770
3cc. Gouda and Monterey Jack** Gouda and Monterey Jack 670 770 676 630** 730**
3cd. Shredded mixed cheese** Shredded mixed cheese 670 770 694 630** 730**
3ce. Swiss** Swiss cheese 670 770 402 360** 520**
3d. Hard cheese, grated and ungrated Shelf stable and refrigerated hard cheese, e.g. Parmesan and Romano. 1720 2530 1419 1420** 2530
3e. Feta and feta-style cheese Cheese sold in brine and cheese salted through a brine, e.g. feta cheese. 1100 1530 1251 1100 1530
3f. Processed cheese and other cheese products Processed cheese products made from an emulsified blend of natural cheese. Includes spreads, blocks, and slices with or without added ingredients. Excludes string cheese (see 3cb). 1240 1670 1444 1240 1500**
3g. Dairy-free cheese and spreads Soy, rice, and other dairy-free cheese slices, blocks, and spreads. 460 1140 957 460 1000**
3h. Havarti and Provolone** Havarti and Provolone N/A N/A 694 590** 770**
Table 4: Fats and oils
Food Category Food Category Description 2016 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2016 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2017 Measured Level
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
4a. Salted butter and butter blends Plain and flavoured butter and butter blends. Excludes unsalted butter. 480 800 696 480 800
4b. Salted margarine Plain and flavoured margarine. Excludes unsalted margarine. 480 800 665 480 700**
4c. Mayonnaise and mayonnaise type spreads and dressing Plain and flavoured mayonnaise and mayonnaise type spreads and dressings. Includes low fat and fat-free versions and oil based sandwich spreads. Also includes standardized salad dressing (see B.07.040 and B.07.042 of the Food and Drug Regulations). 530 840 745 530 840
4d. Salad dressing and vinaigrette Refrigerated and shelf stable oil and vinegar based dressings, creamy dressings, and salad dressing mixes as consumed. Includes low fat and fat-free versions. Excludes standardized salad dressing (B.07.040 and B.07.042 of the Food and Drug Regulations) (see 4c). 690 1130 842 690 940**
Table 5: Fish products
Food Category Food Category Description 2016 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2016 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2017 Measured Level
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
5a. Canned tuna Shelf stable water and oil packed tuna. Excludes sauce packed tuna (see 5b). 250 400 350 250 400
5b. Canned salmon and other canned fish and shellfish Canned salmon, water and oil packed fish, sauce packed fish, canned fish salad and shellfish, e.g. sardines, mackerel, sauce packed tuna, shrimp, crab, clams, and smoked oysters. Includes retort packed products. Excludes water and oil packed tuna (see 5a) and anchovies. 320 530 359 320 400**
5c. Imitation and simulated seafood Surimi, crab flavoured pollock, imitation or simulated crab and lobster meat. 550 710 462 460** 570**
5d. Kippered fish Kippered fish, e.g. kippered herring. 540 1030 452 450** 1030
5e. Frozen plain fish and seafood with added sodium phosphate Frozen plain fish and seafood with added sodium phosphate. 220 570 364 220 530**
5f. Fish and seafood: cakes or burgers, seasoned, and breaded or battered Fish and seafood: cakes and burgers, seasoned, with sauce or seasoning, breaded or battered, and stuffed fish. 300 560 376 300 470**
5g. Smoked fish Smoked fish, e.g. smoked salmon and smoked rainbow trout. Excludes fresh smoked fish and salmon jerky (see 7k). 610 1000 741 610 800**
5h. Fish and seafood mousse, spread, and dips Fish and seafood based mousse, spread, and dips. 400 620 502 400 570**
Table 6: Mixed dishes
Food Category Food Category Description 2016 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2016 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2017 Measured Level
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
6a. Canned chili Shelf stable vegetarian and meat chili. 220 330 297 220 300**
6b. Canned stew and meatballs Shelf stable stew, meatballs, and curries. 410 630 470 410 530**
6c. Shelf stable pasta, noodles, and rice or grains with sauce or seasoned Shelf stable pasta, noodles, and rice or grain mixes with sauce or seasonings, as consumed, e.g. macaroni with cheese sauce, noodles in tomato sauce, and teriyaki noodles. 270 440 308 270 340**
6d. Stuffing mixes Shelf stable stuffing mixes as consumed. Excludes refrigerated stuffing (see 6ja). 500 630 457 460** 590**
6e. Baked and refried beans Shelf stable meat and vegetarian baked beans and refried beans. 250 370 322 250 350**
6f. Pizza, pizza snacks, and frozen sandwiches Frozen and refrigerated pizza, pizza snacks, calzones, and frozen sandwiches with or without meat. Excludes sandwich wraps and burritos (see 6je or 6jh). 400 610 533 400 580**
6ga. Fries** Plain and seasoned French fries, sweet potato fries. 170 380 220 170 340**
6gb. Hash browns and potato patties** Hash browns and potato patties. 170 380 346 280** 510**
6h. Dry mashed or scalloped potatoes Dehydrated scalloped or mashed potatoes as consumed. 290 440 412 290 440
6i. Refrigerated prepared salads Refrigerated prepared salads, e.g. potato salad, coleslaw, pasta salad, vegetable salad, bean salad, couscous, and rice salad. 220 390 308 220 390
6ja. Refrigerated or frozen appetizers, sides, and entrees with a serving size less than 170 g** Dinner entrees, meal sides, meal centers, and appetizers with a serving size less than 170 grams. Excludes all other items listed in Category 6. 350 500 431 350 500
6jb. Refrigerated or frozen appetizers, sides, and entrees with a serving size of 170 g or more** Dinner entrees, meal sides, meal centers, and appetizers with a serving size of 170 grams or more. Excludes all other items listed in Category 6. 220 340 271 220 320**
6jc. Frozen corn dogs and sausages in pastry, batter, bacon or other additions** Cornbread hot dogs, mini wieners, smokies, and sausages in pastry, batter, bacon wrapped or with other high sodium additions. 350 500 883 760** 930**
6jd. Refrigerated or frozen breaded and/or Battered Cheese and Vegetables** Breaded and/or battered cheese with or without vegetables and sauce, and breaded and/or battered vegetables (e.g. onions). 350 500 533 450** 580**
6je. Refrigerated or frozen dough or pastry filled with savoury mixed ingredients** Meat and fish pies, tourtiere, quiche, dumplings, wontons, perogies, spring rolls, queso and taco bites, samosas, egg rolls, phyllo purses/hors d'oeuvres/puff pastries/fillo twisters, pot stickers, sausage rolls, spanakopita, and tyropita. 220 or 350 340 or 500 394 330** 440**
6jf. Refrigerated or frozen pasta** Pasta with cream sauce (cream/rose/cheese sauce), non-cream sauce, and stuffed pasta without sauce. 220 or 350 340 or 500 276 230** 310**
6jg. Refrigerated or frozen Vegetables and legumes** Vegetables with additions or seasoned, e.g. butternut squash, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, Brussel sprouts, and falafel. 350 500 272 230** 340**
6jh. Refrigerated or frozen Mexican type products** Tacos, quesadillas, chimichangas, and burritos. 220 or 350 340 or 500 324 275** 390**
Table 7: Meat products
Food Category Food Category Description 2016 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2016 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2017 Measured Level
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
7a. Uncooked bacon - belly Uncooked belly bacon. Excludes back bacon (see 7o), bacon substitutes (see 7b), and pre-cooked shelf stable bacon (see 7p). 580 610 518 520** 610
7b. Fully cooked breakfast strips and bacon substitutes Chicken, turkey, and other meat based breakfast strips. Excludes cooked back bacon (see 7f) and pre-cooked shelf stable bacon (see 7p). 910 960 886 890** 960
7c. Uncooked fresh sausage Uncooked breakfast and dinner sausages, e.g. pork, chicken, and turkey. 660 690 690 660 690
7d. Fully cooked sausage - smoked and unsmoked, and wieners Wieners (hot dogs) and smoked or unsmoked sausages with or without cheese. 830 870 886 830 870
7e. Pâtés and spreads Pâtés and spreads, e.g. creton and liverwurst. Excludes fish pâtés and spreads (see 5h). 570 600 702 570 600
7f. Packaged deli meats - fully cooked Cooked deli meat, e.g. smoked meat, pastrami, bologna, corned beef, ham, sliced chicken and turkey, luncheon meat loaf, roast beef, cooked pepperoni, and cooked back bacon. 850 890 905 850 890
7g. Packaged deli meats - dry cured, fermented, no thermal process Dry cured, fermented deli meats which have not been thermally processed, e.g. salami and dried pepperoni. Excludes Prosciutto. 1330 1400 1612 1330 1800**
7h. Canned chicken or turkey Shelf stable flakes and chunks of chicken or turkey. 450 470 575 450 470
7i. Canned meat Shelf stable meats, e.g. Vienna sausage, flaked ham, corned beef, and luncheon meat. 790 830 848 790 830
7j. Meat sticks Shelf stable and refrigerated meat sticks, e.g. pepperoni, turkey, beef, ham, and chicken. 1080 1140 1196 1080 1140
7k. Jerky Shelf stable jerky, e.g. beef, turkey, and salmon. 1900 2000 1552 1550** 2000
7l. Meat/Poultry marinated or flavoured and moisture enhanced, uncured Whole muscle cuts with sauce, marinade and/or dry rubs, and meat with added sodium phosphate. 370 390 342 340** 390
7ma. Burgers, meatballs, and meat loaf** Meat and poultry burgers, meatballs, and meatloaf.
See 7mb for breaded products.
450 470 386 390** 430**
7mb. Breaded meat and poultry** Breaded meat products, e.g. products with cheese, burgers, strips, nuggets, chicken burgers, chicken balls, schnitzel, and cutlets. 450 470 506 450 530**
7n. Chicken wings Cooked and uncooked chicken wings in sauce, breaded or battered, and seasoned. 570 600 568 570 600
7o. Preserved meat - uncooked Uncooked pickled, corned, cured or smoked meats (excludes dried and salted meats), e.g. cottage roll, corned beef, pork picnic, Wiltshire bacon, and uncooked back bacon. Excludes uncooked belly bacon (see 7a) and cooked back bacon (see 7f). 900 950 746 750** 950
7p. Bacon bits and shelf stable pre-cooked bacon Shelf stable real and simulated bacon bits and bacon strips. 1800 3000 1632 1630** 2710**
Table 8: Meat substitutes
Food Category Food Category Description 2016 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2016 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2017 Measured Level
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
8a. Seasoned tofu and tempeh Savoury, marinated, and seasoned tofu and tempeh. Excludes plain tofu, tofu based desserts, and plain tempeh. 100 530 46 50** 280**
8b. Meat analogues Frozen and refrigerated meat analogs, e.g. veggie patties, burgers, veggie dogs, meatballs, and deli style slices. Excludes dairy-free cheese (see 3g). 380 580 545 380 580
Table 9: Soups
Food Category Food Category Description 2016 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2016 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2017 Measured Level
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
9a. Canned, dried, and refrigerated soups Canned condensed, ready-to-serve, and dried cream and broth-based soup, broth, stock, bouillon, and consommé as consumed. Includes fresh and instant oriental noodle soups. 240 360 266 240 320**
Table 10: Snacks
Food Category Food Category Description 2016 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2016 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2017 Measured Level
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
10aa. Chips and popcorn**
Potato, corn, tortilla, rice, and vegetable chips, microwave and stovetop ready popcorn, and seasoned or candied ready to eat popcorn. Excludes unseasoned dry popcorn kernels. 400 880 631 400 750**
10ab. Extruded corn snacks**
Extruded and puffed corn snacks, e.g. cheese snacks. 400 880 925 790** 980**
10b. Pretzels and snack mixes Hard pretzels, candied pretzels, sesame sticks, and assorted snack mixes. Excludes trail mix. 790 1400 1106 790 1280**
10c. Nuts, seeds, and kernels, seasoned and candied Seasoned, salted, and candied nuts, seeds, and kernels, e.g. salted sunflower seeds, BBQ peanuts, and beer nuts. Excludes unsalted products. 320 550 408 320 520**
10da. Pudding excluding instant dry mix** Pudding (refrigerated, shelf stable, and dry mix excluding instant) as consumed. Includes soy pudding. 80 150 125 80 150
10db. Pudding instant dry mix** Pudding, instant dry mix, as consumed. Includes soy pudding. 80 150 267 250** 300**
Table 11: Sauces, dips, gravies and condiments
Food Category Food Category Description 2016 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2016 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2017 Measured Level
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
11aa. Tomato based pasta and pizza sauce**
Shelf stable, refrigerated, frozen, and dry mix tomato-based pasta, pizza, and lasagna sauces, as consumed. 320 520 353 300** 380**
11ab. Cream based pasta sauce** Shelf stable, refrigerated, frozen, and dry mix cream or cheese pasta sauces, as consumed. 320 520 480 390** 570**
11b. Pesto Shelf stable and refrigerated pesto, e.g. basil or sun-dried tomato pesto. 770 1160 773 770 990**
11c. Tomato sauce Shelf stable plain or flavoured tomato sauce. Excludes tomato-based pasta sauces (see 11aa) and tomato paste (see 12a). 250 490 334 250 450**
11d. Condiments Shelf stable condiments, e.g. ketchup, chili sauce, seafood sauce, BBQ sauce, steak sauce, chutney, and mustard. Excludes hot sauce. For relish (see 12d). 660 1400 1084 660 1120**
11ea. Gravy, cooking sauces, salsa and dips**
Shelf stable, refrigerated and dry mix gravy, cooking sauces (e.g. hollandaise, curry, and stir-fry sauces), salsa, vegetable-, mayonnaise- and dairy-based dips (e.g. spinach and tzatziki) as consumed. Excludes hummus and legume dips (see 11eb) and curry paste (see 11i). 400 670 604 480** 780**
11eb. Hummus and legume dips**
Hummus and legume dips. Excludes gravy, cooking sauces, salsa and dips (see 11ea) and curry paste (see 11i). 400 670 404 320** 450**
11f. Sweet oriental sauces Sweet oriental sauces, e.g. plum sauce, cherry sauce, pineapple sauce, and sweet and sour sauce. Excludes sweet chili sauce (see 11gb). 100 350 302 100 350
11ga. Soya, oyster and hoisin sauce**
Soya, hoisin and oyster sauce. Excludes fish sauce. For sweet oriental sauces (see 11f), other oriental-type sauces (see 11gb), stir-fry sauce (see 11ea), and marinades (see 11h). 2300 4300 4506 3600** 5710**
11gb. Other oriental-type sauces**
Other oriental-type sauces, e.g. teriyaki, black bean, peanut garlic, dim sum, and sweet or Thai-chili sauce. Excludes hot sauce. For soya, oyster and hoisin sauce (see 11ga), sweet oriental sauces (see 11f), stir-fry sauce (see 11ea), and marinades (see 11h). 2300 4300 1124 990** 1220**
11h. Marinades Shelf stable and dry marinade mixes as consumed. 1800 3000 2412 1800 2770**
11i. Curry pastes Curry pastes, e.g. Thai and Indian. 1300 3300 1995 1300 2330**
Table 12: Vegetables
Food Category Food Category Description 2016 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2016 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2017 Measured Level
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
12a. Tomato paste with additions Tomato paste with additions, e.g. tomato paste with herbs or garlic. Excludes plain tomato paste with no added salt. 470 840 252 250** 370**
12b. Canned vegetables and legumes Canned vegetables and legumes, e.g. potatoes, tomatoes, corn, peas, green beans, mushrooms, mixed vegetables, beets (plain and pickled), kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, and bean salads. 100 310 181 100 250**
12c. Sour pickled vegetables Shelf stable sour pickled vegetables, e.g. cucumbers, onions, peppers, sauerkraut, and other vegetables. 640 1040 854 640 900**
12d. Sweet pickled vegetables Shelf stable sweet pickled vegetables, e.g. cucumbers, onions, relish, and other vegetables. 400 700 506 400 570**
12e. Olives and sundried tomatoes Shelf stable un-stuffed olives, tapenade, and sundried tomatoes. Excludes stuffed olives (see 12f). 880 1800 1230 880 1730**
12f. Stuffed olives Shelf stable stuffed olives. 1600 2000 1603 1600 1870**
12g. Vegetable juice and cocktail Vegetable juice and vegetable juice cocktail, e.g. tomato juice, carrot juice, and tomato and clam juice. Excludes vegetable and fruit juice blends. 180 330 199 180 240**
Table 13: Nut butters
Food Category Food Category Description 2016 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2016 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2017 Measured Level
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
13a. Nut butters Nut butters, e.g. peanut, almond, cashew, and soy. Excludes unsalted nut butters and tahini. 300 430 354 300 400**
Table 14: Seasoning mixes
Food Category Food Category Description 2016 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2016 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2017 Measured Level
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
14a. Breading, batter, and coatings Breading or batter coatings for meat, poultry, fish, or vegetables. 1840 3420 2971 1840 3330**
14b. Dry seasoning mixes Dry seasoning mixes for side and main dishes, e.g. chili, stew, fajita, and salad seasoning. Includes popcorn seasoning. Excludes salts listed in Division 7 of the Food and Drug Regulations and seasoning salt. 5100 9100 9622 5100 9100
14c. Meat, poultry and fish seasoning Dry seasoning for meat, poultry and fish, e.g. steak spice. 12700 23000 16198 12700** 19200**
Table 15: Infant and toddler foods
Food Category Food Category Description 2016 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2016 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2017 Measured Level
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Sales Weighted Average

(mg sodium per 100g product)
2025 Targets
Maximum Level

(mg sodium per 100g product)
15a. Toddler mixed dishes Shelf stable and frozen toddler entrees. 190 240 96 100** 200**
15b. Cookies, biscuits and snack bars Infant and toddler cookies, biscuits, and snack bars. 160 320 166 160 250**
15c. Savoury snacks Infant and toddler seasoned extruded snacks. 400 540 514 400 540

Assessment and reporting

Canada committed to meeting the WHO 30% relative reduction in mean population intake of sodium by 2025. A 30% relative reduction in intake would bring the average sodium intakes of Canadians to the intake goal of 2300 mg per day. Health Canada encourages the food processing sector to achieve the targets by 2025 and will assess progress. In order to assess progress towards meeting the targets, up-to-date food label and sales data for processed foods will be required on the 117 categories that have established sodium reduction targets. If assessment indicates that the sector is making little progress; other courses of action may be considered.

Health Canada will also evaluate population sodium intakes using data on food intake of Canadians obtained through the Canadian Community Health Survey – Nutrition (CCHS – Nutrition) and sodium levels in food. If sodium levels in the food supply decrease to the 2025 sodium targets, it is anticipated that the average sodium intake of Canadians will decrease to about 2300 mg per day, the established intake goal.

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: