Health Canada's Proposed Revisions to Reference Amounts in Schedule M of the Food and Drug Regulations

Updating reference amounts to support proposed new serving size guidelines

July 14, 2014

Table of Contents


The purpose of this consultation document is to outline Health Canada's proposed changes to the reference amounts set out in Schedule M of the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR), and to solicit feedback from stakeholders.

Current Context

On January 28, 2014, the Minister of Health announced the launch of a consultation with Canadian parents and consumers on ways to improve nutritional information on food labels, in response to a commitment identified in the  2013 Speech from the Throne. The initial phase of this consultative process, which closed April 30, 2014, focused on hearing the general views of Canadian parents and consumers with respect to nutrition labelling, and included an online questionnaire and face-to-face roundtable discussions in selected locations across Canada. A What We Heard report has been prepared to provide an overview of the feedback received.

Health Canada is now entering the second phase of consultations which focuses on various technical aspects of the Nutrition Facts table (NFt), including this technical consultation on proposed changes to the reference amounts set out in Schedule M of the FDR. Additional proposed changes to the NFt, such as changes to the serving size declaration, Daily Values, core nutrients and format are being consulted on as part of this phase. Input from all of these consultations will be used in conjunction with other data sources in the development of proposed changes to the NFt.


Reference amounts represent the amounts of food typically eaten at one sitting, and are set out in Schedule M of the FDR for 153 categories of food. Presently, reference amounts are primarily used as the criterion to determine whether the package size of a food requires the nutrition information to be shown for the whole package (single serving package) and as a criterion for nutrient content claims and health claims.

As described in Health Canada's Technical Consultation on Proposed Serving Size Guidance, Health Canada is proposing that reference amounts be used as the basis for setting the serving size declaration in the NFt for multi-serving packages of food. Specifically, two of the three guidelines outlined in the proposed serving size guidance use the reference amount as the basis for determining the serving size declared in the NFt. This proposed guidance will help bring consistency to serving size information, and is in line with Health Canada's intended approach that the information shown in the NFt reflect what an average Canadian eats.

Proposed Updates to Schedule M Reference Amounts

With the finalization of Health Canada's proposed serving size guidance, food manufacturers will be further utilizing the list of reference amounts for the purpose of determining the appropriate serving sizes to be declared in the NFt of their products. The proposed changes to the reference amounts listed in Schedule M are necessary to ensure they are comprehensive and reflect the current consumption habits of Canadians.

Proposed changes to the reference amounts were developed based on market analysis (including the review of labels found in grocery stores and by searching Mintel Global New Products Database), consumption data from the 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), comments received since the introduction of the current nutrition labelling regulations in 2002, and consideration of the  United States Food and Drug Administration Proposed Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label.

Include Changes from 2005 Proposed Regulatory Amendment

A number of changes to Schedule M had been proposed in an earlier regulatory amendment proposal published in 2005 in the  Canada Gazette, Part I (Vol. 139, No. 19 - May 7, 2005) and are included in the table below. New reference amount categories for foods for children under two years of age were proposed at that time.

Include Additional Examples of Foods

While the list of foods within the current 153 categories is not intended to specifically mention all foods, it would benefit from the inclusion of more examples of foods that fall within respective reference amount categories in order to facilitate use of the table by the food industry and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). For example, there have been a number of questions since the implementation of mandatory nutrition labelling as to which reference amount would apply to smoothies. Health Canada is proposing to add smoothies as an additional example in item 50 of Schedule M, within the Dairy Products and Substitutes category. This and other proposed additional examples have been included in the table below.

Update Reference Amounts to Reflect Amounts of Food Typically Eaten at One Sitting

In addition, there is a need to update certain reference amounts to more accurately represent the amount of food typically eaten by a person at one sitting. For example, Health Canada is proposing to change the reference amount of ice cream from 125 mL to 175 mL based on the most current CCHS consumption data. The table below shows proposed changes to a number of reference amounts where intake or market data indicate a change is warranted.

Process for Future Updates to Schedule M

Over the past few years, the CFIA has made administrative changes to the table of reference amounts posted in their former Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising following agreement by Health Canada, as a means to help the food industry in complying with the regulatory requirements associated with nutrient content claims and health claims. This strategy was used given the challenges regarding the ease and timeliness in making regulatory changes to the FDR under the current system. Health Canada is exploring options for strengthening the efficiency and timeliness of the process for implementing reference amount decisions.

Table 1. Proposed Updates to Schedule M Reference Amounts
[Changes to the table are shown in bold and italicized text]
Item Product Category Reference AmountTable 1 footnote 1

Table 1 footnotes

Table 1 footnote 1

Unless otherwise noted, the reference amounts are for the ready-to-serve or almost ready-to-serve form of the food. If not listed separately, the reference amount for the unprepared form, such as dry mixes, concentrates, dough, batter, and fresh or frozen pasta, is the amount required to make one reference amount of the prepared form.

Return to table 1 footnote 1 referrer

Table 1 footnote 2

Excludes any liquid in which the solid food may be packed or canned, unless the liquid is customarily consumed with the solid food.

Return to table 1 footnote 2 referrer

Table 1 footnote 3

Meat and poultry substitutes include extended and simulated meat and poultry products.

Return to table 1 footnote 3 referrer

1 Bread, excluding sweet quick-type rolls Proposing:
75 g instead of 50 g
2 Tea biscuits, scones, rolls, buns, croissants, tortillas, soft bread sticks, soft pretzels and corn bread
Proposing: To remove 'Bagels' and to add 'English muffins'
55 g
new Bagels, pita, naan, flat bread Proposing: 85 g
3 Brownies 40 g
4 Heavy weight cake: 10 g or more per 2.5 cm cube, such as cheese cake, pineapple upside-down, cake with at least 35% of the finished weight as fruit, nuts, or vegetables, or any of these combined
Proposing to add: Pound cake
125 g
5 Medium weight cake: 4 g or more per 2.5 cm cube but less than 10 g per 2.5 cm cube, such as cake with or without icing or filling, cake with less than 35% of the finished weight as fruit, nuts or vegetables or any of these combined; light weight cake with icing; Boston cream pie, cupcakes, eclairs, or cream puffs 80 g
6 Light weight Cake: less than 4 g per 2.5 cm cube, such as angel food, chiffon, or sponge cake without icing or filling 55 g
7 Proposing to combine with item 11 and to remove 'muffins'
Coffee cakes, doughnuts, danishes, sweet rolls, sweet quick-type breads and flaky type pastries, with or without filling or icing
55 g
new Muffins Proposing: 115 g
8 Cookies, with or without coating or filling; graham wafers 30 g
9 Crackers, hard bread sticks and melba toast 20 g
new Cracker chips, crackers and cheese dip pack Proposing: 30 g
10 Dry breads, matzo, and rusks 30 g
11 Proposing to combine with item 7: Flaky type pastries, with or without filling or icing 55 g
12 Toaster pastries 55 g
13 Ice cream cones 5 g
14 Croutons 7 g
15 French toast, pancakes, and waffles 75 g
16 Grain-based bars with filling or partial or full coating 40 g
17 Grain-based bars, without filling or coating 30 g
18 Rice cakes and corn cakes 15 g
19 Pies, tarts, cobblers, turnovers, other pastries 110 g
20 Pie crust 1/6 of 20 cm crust or
1/8 of 23 cm crust
21 Pizza crust 55 g
22 Taco shell, hard 30 g
23 Carbonated and non-carbonated beverages
Proposing: To remove 'wine coolers (provided they contain < 0.5% or less of alcohol)' and to add 'iced tea, flavoured and sweetened and iced coffee and specialty coffee'
355 mL
new Alcoholic beverages: Proposing:
a. wine 175 mL
b. beer 341 mL
c. wine coolers 341 mL
24 Sports drinks and water
Proposing to add: Energy drinks
500 mL
25 Coffee: Proposing:
a. regular, instant and specialty, including café au lait, flavoured and sweetened 250 mL
b. espresso 175 mL
26 Tea and herbal tea, including regular and instant (hot), and flavoured and sweetened, prepared from mixes
250 mL
Proposing to remove:
(a) regular and instant (hot)
(b) flavoured and sweetened, prepared from mixes, such as iced tea
Proposing to remove: 175 mL
27 Cocoa and chocolate beverages (hot) Proposing:
250 mL instead of 175 mL
28 Hot breakfast cereals, such as oatmeal, or cream of wheat 40 g dry,
250 mL prepared
29 Ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, puffed and uncoated (less than 20 g per 250 ml) 15 g
30 Ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, puffed and coated, flaked, extruded, without fruit or nuts (20 g to 42 g per 250 ml), very high fibre cereals (with 28 g or more fibre per 100 g) 30 g
31 Ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, fruit and nut type, granola (weighing 43 g or more per 250 mL) and biscuit type cereals 55 g
32 Bran and wheat germ
Proposing to add: Milled flax seeds and milled hemp seeds
15 g
33 Flours, including cornmeal 30 g
34 Grains, such as rice or barley 45 g dry
140 g cooked
35 Pastas without sauce
Proposing to add: Gnocchi
85 g dry
215 g cooked
36 Pastas, dry and ready-to-eat, such as fried canned chow mein noodles 25 g
37 Starch, such as cornstarch, potato starch, tapioca starch or wheat starch 10 g
38 Stuffing 100 g
39 Cheese, including cream cheese and cheese spread, except those listed as a separate item 30 g
40 Cottage cheese 125 g
41 Cheese used as an ingredient, such as dry cottage cheese or ricotta cheese 55 g
42 Hard cheese, grated, such as parmesan or romano 15 g
43 Quark, fresh cheese and fresh dairy desserts 100 g
44 Cream and cream substitute, except those listed as separate item 15 mL
45 Cream and cream substitute, powder 2 g
46 Cream and cream substitute, aerosol or whipped 15 g
47 Eggnog 125 mL
48 Milk, evaporated or condensed 15 mL
49 Plant-based beverages, milk, buttermilk and milk-based drinks, such as chocolate milk
Proposing to add: Drinkable yogurt
250 mL
50 Shakes and shake substitutes such as dairy shake mix
Proposing to add: Smoothies (if whey/dairy or plant-based beverage is a main ingredient), including those with coffee or juice
250 mL
51 Sour cream 30 mL
52 Yogurt 175 g
53 Ice cream, ice milk, frozen yogurt, sherbet
Proposing to add: Non-dairy desserts, frozen, sold in tubs
Proposing: 175 mL instead of 125 mL
54 Dairy desserts, frozen, such as cakes, bars, sandwiches or cones 125 mL
55 Non-dairy desserts, frozen, such as flavoured and sweetened ice or pops, frozen fruit juices in bars or cups 75 mL
56 Sundaes 250 mL
57 Custard, gelatin and pudding 125 mL
58 Dessert toppings, such as maple butter and marshmallow cream 30 g
59 Cake frostings and icings
Proposing to add: Streusal topping
35 g
60 Pie fillings 75 mL
61 Egg mixtures, such as egg foo young, scrambled eggs, omelets 110 g
62 Eggs
Proposing to add: including eggs in the shell, liquid eggs and liquid egg whites
Proposing: 100 g instead of 50 g
63 Egg substitutes 50 g
64 Butter, margarine, shortening, lard
Proposing to add: Butter-flavoured spread
10 g
65 Vegetable oil 10 mL
66 Butter replacement, powder 2 g
67 Dressings for salad 30 mL
68 Mayonnaise, sandwich spread and mayonnaise-type dressing 15 mL
69 Oil, spray type 0.5 g
70 Canned anchovies, anchovy paste and caviar 15 gTable 1 footnote 2
71 Marine and fresh water animals with sauce, such as fish with cream sauce or shrimp with lobster sauce 140 g cooked
72 Marine and fresh water animals without sauce, such as plain or fried fish or shellfish, or fish or shellfish cakes, with or without breading or batter 125 g raw
100 g cooked
73 Marine and fresh water animals, canned Proposing: 85 gTable 1 footnote 2 instead of 55
74 Marine and fresh water animals, smoked or pickled, or spreads 55 gTable 1 footnote 2
75 Fruit, fresh, canned or frozen, coated or uncoated, except those listed as a separate item
Proposing to add: Apple sauce
140 g
150 mL cannedTable 1 footnote 2
new Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries Proposing: 80 g
76 Candied or pickled fruit 30 gTable 1 footnote 2
77 Dried fruit, such as raisins, dates or figs 40 g
78 Fruit for garnish or flavour, such as maraschino cherries 4 gTable 1 footnote 2
79 Fruit relishes 60 mL
80 Avocado, used as an ingredient 30 g
81 Cranberries, lemons and limes, used as ingredients 55 g
82 Watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew and other melons 150 g
83 Juices, nectars and fruit drinks represented for use as substitutes for fruit juices
Proposing to add: Juice-based smoothies
250 mL
84 Juices, used as ingredients, such as lemon juice or lime juice 5 mL
85 Bean curd (tofu) or tempeh 85 gTable 1 footnote 2
86 Beans, peas and lentils, such as white beans, kidney beans, romano beans, soybeans or chick peas 100 g dry,
250 mL cooked or cannedTable 1 footnote 2
87 Pork rinds and bacon 54 g uncooked
15 g cooked
88 Beef, pork and poultry breakfast strips 30 g uncooked
15 g cooked
89 Dried meat and poultry, such as jerky, dried beef or parma ham, as well as sausage products with a water activity of 0.90 or less, such as salami, dried thuringer or cervelat 30 g
90 Luncheon meats such as bologna, blood pudding, minced luncheon roll, liver sausage, mortadella, ham and cheese loaf or headcheese; pâté, sandwich spread, potted meat food product; taco fillings; meat pie fillings and cretons 75 g uncooked,
55 g cooked
91 Sausage products, such as linked sausage, Vienna sausage, wieners, breakfast sausage, frankfurters, pork sausage, bratwurst, kielbasa, Polish sausage, summer sausage, smoked sausage, smoked country sausage, pepperoni, knackwurst, thuringer and cervelat
Proposing to add: Sausage made with combination of seafood and pork
75 g uncooked,
55 g cooked
92 Cuts of meat and poultry without sauce, and ready-to-cook cuts, with or without breading or batter, including marinated, tenderized and injected cuts
Proposing to add: Shish kebab (only marinated meat, no vegetables), whole chicken (no stuffing), turkey roast (no stuffing)
125 g raw,
100 g cooked
93 Patties (including veggie burger patties), cutlettes, chopettes, steakettes, meatballs, sausage meat and ground meat, with or without breading or batter
Proposing to add: Corn dog on a stick (breaded), falafels
100 g raw,
60 g cooked
94 Cured meat products such as cured ham, dry cured ham, back bacon, cured pork back, dry cured cappicolo, corned beef, pastrami, country ham, cured pork shoulder picnic, cured poultry ham products, smoked meat or pickled meat 85 g raw,
55 g cooked
95 Canned meat and poultry 55 gTable 1 footnote 2
96 Meat and poultry with sauce, such as meat in barbecue sauce or turkey with gravy, but excluding combination dishes 140 g
97 Baking powder, baking soda and pectin
Proposing to add: Yeast
0.6 g
98 Baking decorations, such as coloured sugars or sprinkles for cookies 4 g
99 Bread crumbs and batter mixes 30 g
100 Cooking wine 30 mL
101 Cocoa powder 5 g
102 Non-alcoholic drink mixers, such as pina colada or daiquiri 250 mL
103 Chewing gum 3 g
104 Salad and potato toppers, such as salad crunchies, salad crispins or substitutes for bacon bits 7 g
105 Salt and salt substitutes, as well as seasoned salts such as garlic salt
Proposing to add: Seasoning products with salt (e.g. vegetarian seasoning)
1 g
106 Spices and herbs (no salt) 0.5 g
107 Proposing to combine items 107 and 108a and remove reference to 'Measurable with a cup':
Combination dishes, such as casserole, hash, macaroni and cheese with or without meat, pot pie, spaghetti with sauce, stir fry, meat or poultry casserole, baked or refried beans, wieners and beans, meat chili, chili with beans, creamed chipped beef, beef or poultry ravioli in sauce, beef stroganoff, poultry à la king, Brunswick stew, goulash, stew, ragout or poutine, burritos, enchiladas, pizza (considered to be "without sauce"), pizza rolls, sausage rolls, pastry rolls, cabbage rolls, quiche, sandwiches, crackers and meat or poultry lunch-type packages, gyros, burger on a bun, frank on a bun, calzones, tacos, pockets stuffed with meat, lasagna, chicken cordon bleu, stuffed vegetables with meat or poultry, shish kabobs (if combination of meat and vegetables), empanadas, fajitas, souvlaki (if combination of meat and vegetables), meat pie or tourtière

Proposing to add as examples: rice and vegetables, butter chicken with rice, shepherd's pie, meat-filled cannelloni (no sauce), stuffed turkey roast, stuffed chicken

a A decision was made to combine these two groups in order to put them on an equal basis. It was not always easy or practical to determine which combination dishes were "(not) measurable with a cup".

300 g without gravy or sauce, 355 g with gravy or sauce

Proposing to remove: 250 mL

108 Proposing to remove item 108: Not measurable with a cup, such as burritos, egg rolls, enchiladas, pizza (considered to be "without sauce"), pizza rolls, sausage rolls, pastry rolls, cabbage rolls, quiche, sandwiches, crackers and meat or poultry lunch-type packages, gyros, burger on a bun, frank on a bun, calzones, tacos, pockets stuffed with meat, lasagna, chicken cordon bleu, stuffed vegetables with meat or poultry, shish kabobs, empanadas, fajitas, souvlaki, meat pie or tourtière 140 g without gravy or sauce, 195 g with gravy or sauce
109 Hors d'oeuvre
Proposing to add: sushi, egg rolls
Proposing: 85 g, instead of 50 g, add 35 g for sauce
110 Nuts and seeds, not for use as snacks: whole, chopped, sliced, slivered or ground 30 g shelled
111 Butters, pastes and creams, other than peanut butter 30 g
112 Peanut butter 15 g
113 Flours, such as coconut flour 15 g
114 French fries, hash browns, skins and pancakes 85 g frozen French fries,
70 g prepared
115 Mashed, candied, stuffed, or with sauce
Proposing to add: Instant potatoes
140 g
116 Plain, fresh, canned or frozen 110 g fresh or frozen,
125 g vacuum-packed,
150 mL canned instead of 160 gTable 1 footnote2
117 Salads, such as egg, fish, shellfish, bean, fruit, vegetable, meat, ham or poultry salad, except those listed as a separate item 100 g
118 Gelatin salad 120 g
119 Pasta or potato salad 140 g
120 Sauces for dipping, such as barbecue, hollandaise, tartar, mustard or sweet and sour sauce 30 mL
121 Dips, such as legume or dairy-based 30 g
122 Major main entrée sauce, such as spaghetti sauce 125 mL
123 Minor main entrée sauce such as pizza sauce, pesto sauce, or other sauces used as toppings such as white sauce, cheese sauce, salsa, cocktail sauce or gravy 60 mL
124 Major condiments, such as ketchup, steak sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, teriyaki sauce or marinades 15 mL
125 Minor condiments, such as horseradish, hot sauce, mustard, or Worcestershire sauce
Liquid smoke
5 mL
126 Chips, pretzels, popcorn, extruded snacks, grain-based snack mixes and fruit-based snacks, such as fruit chips
Proposing to add: Pita chips
50 g
127 Nuts or seeds for use as snacks 50 g shelled
128 Meat or poultry snack food sticks 20 g
129 All varieties 250 mL
130 Candies, including chocolate bars and other chocolate products, except those listed as a separate item 40 g
131 Hard candies, except those listed as a separate item 15 g
132 Baking candies, such as chocolate chips 15 g
133 Breath mints 2 g
134 Roll-type hard candies and mini size hard candies in dispenser packages 5 g
135 Confectioner's or icing sugar 30 g
136 Bread spreads, except those listed as a separate item, honey and molasses 20 g
137 Jams, jellies, marmalades, fruit butters and spreads 15 mL
138 Marshmallows 30 g
139 Sugars, except those listed as a separate item 4 g
140 Sugar substitute amount equivalent in sweetness to 4 g sugar
141 Syrups used as toppings, including chocolate and maple syrups
Proposing to remove: 'and corn syrup'
60 mL
Proposing to remove: 'other uses' from 60 mL and '30 mL as ingredient'
new Corn syrup, as ingredient 30 mL
142 Vegetables without sauce, including cream style corn and stewed tomatoes, but not including vegetables without sauce listed as a separate item
Proposing to add: Lettuce, all varieties
85 g fresh or frozen,
125 mL cannedTable 1 footnote2
143 Vegetables with sauce
Proposing to add: or with breading, such as onion rings and breaded zucchini sticks
110 g fresh or frozen,
125 mL canned
144 Vegetables primarily used for garnish or flavouring, fresh, canned or frozen, but not dried, such as parsley or garlic 4 g Proposing to add: fresh or frozen,
5 mL canned
145 Chili pepper and green onion 30 g
146 Seaweed
Proposing to add: Dehydrated mushrooms
15 g
147 Sprouts
Proposing to remove Lettuce and to add to item 142
65 g
148 Vegetable juice and vegetable drink 250 mL
149 Olives
Proposing to add: Sun-dried tomato packed in oil, artichoke hearts, pickled vegetables
15 gTable 1 footnote 2
150 Pickles 30 g
151 Relish 15 mL
152 Vegetable pastes, such as tomato paste 30 mL
153 Vegetable sauce or purée, such as tomato sauce or tomato purée 60 mL
  Proposed new food category: FOODS FOR CHILDREN UNDER TWO YEARS OF AGE Proposing
new Combination dishes, meat, desserts, fruit, vegetables that are strained 60 mL
new Cereals, dry, instant 15 g
new Juices, all varieties 125 mL
new Combination dishes represented for toddlers 170 g
new Combination dishes represented for juniors 110 g
new Desserts, fruit, vegetables represented for juniors 110 mL
new Ready-to-eat cereal, represented for toddlers 20 g
new Cookies, teething biscuits and toasts 7 g

Submitting Comments to Health Canada

Comments on this consultation may be submitted in writing by regular mail or electronically at the address indicated below. If you are submitting your comments electronically, please use the title "Proposed Revision to Reference Amounts" in the subject box of your email.

Food Directorate
Bureau of Nutritional Sciences
251 Sir Frederick Banting Driveway
Tunney's Pasture
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0K9

Fax: 613-941-6636

Submissions must be received by 11:59 p.m. EST on September 12, 2014.

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