Category: Food Labels

New Canadian Nutrition Labels Announced!

Are you ready for clearer nutrition labelling on packaged foods? Health Canada announced the new formats which may help you make the healthy choice the easy choice. New labels will be implemented over the next 5 years for all packed foods. What’s changed? Here are my top 5 observations with Dietitian’s Tips:

  1. Calories in the spotlight with bolder, bigger numbers and Serving size stands out more and it will be easier to compare  similar foods
  2. daily-value-meter-eng% Daily Value (% DV) explained as a simple ‘rule of thumb: 5% DV is a little, 15% is a lot of any nutrient. [Dietitian’s Tip look for foods with: INCREASED Fibre and  LESS Saturated fat, Sodium, Sugars ]
  3. Sugars focus with a new 100% Daily Value as 100 g/d.  Ingredient list will still show different types of sugars, but they will be grouped together. [Dietitian’s Tip – regardless of the source, all sugars are similar nutritionally, for more information on sugars click here]
  4. Food colours identified individually on Ingredient list.
  5. There is more to come so let your voice be heard! Share your opinions about nutrition labelling with Health Canada. Complete this brief consumer questionnaire and / or complete the technical questionnaire both by January 13th, 2017. This is YOUR chance to help shape the future of nutrition labelling in Canada.

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Sugar by any other name is nutritionally the same

cfia-many-names-of-sugars-picMany Canadians are surprised to hear that sugar by any other name is nutritionally the same. The different names for sugars do not affect what they really are, which is simple carbohydrates that taste sweet and provide quickly absorbed energy at 4 calories per gram. For example on an ingredient label, sugar, honey, maple syrup and evaporated cane juice could all be listed separately, but the human body treats them all the same – as sugar.

FOOD LABEL TRANSLATION:

It’s important to look at the Nutrition Facts table to check how much sugar is in a serving of a food.  On food labels, sugar is shown in grams, but most people think of sugar in teaspoons. The conversion is easy: 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon. Health Canada plans to set 100g of sugar/day as the recommended Daily Value (100% DV). When you do the math, 100 g of sugar is equivalent to 25 teaspoons of sugar per day from all sources. You’ll be able to use the % Daily Value to estimate if there is a little (5% DV) or a lot (15% DV) of sugar in a serving of food.

NATURALLY OCCURRING AND ADDED SUGARS

Did you know that both added and naturally occurring sugars are broken down in a similar way? Once sugar is digested, the body really can’t tell the difference! But there is a difference between where sugar is found in the foods we eat and what other nutrients come along with the sugar.  For example, sugars are found naturally in all fruit, dairy, and wholegrain breads and cereals, which are all foods that are important for our health. Sugars that come from these foods provide many other nutrients too and are healthier choices than foods that only contribute sugar calories. Sugars that are added to foods during preparation contribute only calories and sweet taste.

DIETITIAN’S TIP:

It’s a good start to cut down on sugary foods but it’s still okay to leave some sweet foods in to keep it real. Make your sugar calories count by choosing foods that give you a chock full of other nutrients not just sugar.

CALL TO ACTION:

Help shape the future of nutrition labelling. Before January 13, 2017, let your voice be heard by participating in an important Health Canada consultation on front of package labelling, which includes sugars.  There are 2 ways to participate online at http://bit.ly/2f1Weow

  1. Complete the consumer questionnaire, which has background information and 8 questions.
  2. Review the consultation document and complete the technical questionnaire, which has 15 questions.

Have questions? We can help. Let’s chat about how Health Canada’s proposed front of package labelling may affect your business. Contact us at: Lucia@WeilerNutrition.com

 

Our Food Guide consultation is now open!

food-guide-consultationYou may have heard the big announcement that Health Canada is revising the Food Guide (CFG) and consultations are open for only 45 days until December 8th.  CFG was last changed over 10 years ago so don’t miss this chance to let your voice be heard!

Why is CFG important?

CFG was, and will remain a key document that shapes the approach to healthy eating recommendations and policies in Canada, including nutrition education and menu planning. You know that nutrition science has evolved in the last 20 years.  We moved from ‘no fat’ or ‘low fat’ to good fat, from ‘low carb’ to high quality carbs, and at the end of the day more and more scientists agree that the overall dietary pattern is more important than any one food or nutrient. Of course, it’s a real challenge to translate complex science about nutrition into specific recommendations that meets the diverse needs of the Canadian population, but the new Food Guide revision set out to do just that. Let your voice be heard on how CFG can help you benefit from nutrition.

How to let your voice be heard!

We completed Canada’s Food Guide Workbook on line, which did not take very long, and we have a few tips for your consideration so you know what to expect when you participate.

The first question separates members of the general public from professionals who work in health, teaching or are representing an organization.  After a few more qualifying questions about who you are, the survey asks you to select 3 types of activities where you use healthy eating recommendations most often. The next set of questions are based on the 3 activities you just identified. They explore the type of guidance you find most valuable and the ways you would like recommendations presented. The final questions request you to rate the importance of a variety of topics related to healthy eating, including food enjoyment, eating patterns, security, environment, level of processing and sugars.

We encourage you to take the time and complete Canada’s Food Guide Workbook by December 8th. It’s your chance to influence the way Canadians will eat well for many years to come.

If you have any questions or comments on completing Canada’s Food Guide Workbook we’d be happy to hear from you!

Dare to Compare… Ice cream vs Gelato

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With the start of summer, ice cream treats are a staple and gelato is becoming more popular. Do you know the difference between ice cream and gelato? Does gelato contain less dairy or have fewer calories than ice cream? Here’s the scoop!

Ice cream and gelato may look similar but are made quite differently and also have unique textures and different nutritional qualities.

How they’re made:  Ice cream’s first ingredient is cream, followed by added sugar. Ice cream is churned fast, whipping in a lot of air. This is makes ice cream fluffy and light.

Gelato on the other hand is made primarily with milk and added sugar. Gelato is churned very slowly, limiting the amount of air that’s mixed in. This gives gelato a thick and dense texture.

Nutritional qualities:  Gelato is denser than ice cream so a scoop of gelato weighs a bit more than the same size scoop of ice cream. (See chart below.) Calories in gelato are similar to those in ice cream and depend on the type of ingredients used. If you are concerned about fat content, gelato usually has less fat than regular ice cream because it is made with milk rather than cream.  Lactose is a naturally occurring sugar and the major carbohydrate in milk. Both ice cream and gelato contain lactose at about 3-6 grams/125 ml serving. [1]  Overall, gelato has more added sugar than ice cream resulting in higher carbohydrate content compared to ice cream.

Dietitian’s Tip:  Both ice cream and gelato are high calorie treats so stick to a small portion (1/2 cup or 125 mL) per serving.  Where possible, check the ingredient list and nutrition label to help you make informed decisions.

 

Characteristics Ice Cream[2] Gelato[3]
Key Ingredients Cream, sugar Milk, sugar
Churning Fast Slow
Density Fluffier, more air
(serving size weighs less per volume)
Denser, less air
(serving size weighs more per volume)
Serving size ½ cup (125 ml) 90  grams ½ cup (125 ml) 100 grams
Calories 200 200
Fat 12 g  9 g
Carbohydrate 20 g 25 g
Protein 4 g 4 g
Calcium 12 % DV 15 % DV

[1] Dietitians of Canada, Food Sources of Lactose (2013)
[2] Health Canada, Canadian Nutrient File Vanilla Ice Cream Food Code # 4158
[3] Vanilla Gelato Nutrition Facts Label

 

Top trends at Grocery Innovations Canada 2014

GIC 2014Grocery Innovations Canada is the annual “must attend” event for professionals involved in the retail and food service industry. We were there again this year to see what’s hot and what’s not and to check out new food and beverage innovations. Here are the top five trends that jumped out at us:

1. Clean ingredient list. Consumers are looking for pronounceable ingredients. What is NOT on the label is as important to consumers as what is printed on the packaging.  More shoppers are asking for ‘natural’ or unprocessed products. We expect to see more of this “ free of ….“ focus in the future.
2. Ethnic flavours continue to be a strong trend. Food makers anticipate a growth in Asian, Indian and Latin America cuisine.
3. Supermarket Chef Showdown!   Canadians eat out often and busy shoppers are looking for help with prepared meals. Supermarket chefs showed their talents on how they create delicious and healthy meals to attract food loving grocery shoppers. In the Globe and Mail Marina Strauss reports on this fast growing grocery-resto or takeout trend calling it the “Grocerant”
4. Chocolate, Chia and Coconut were notable ingredient trends. New product innovations with chocolate included baked goods, lactose free chocolate milk (Natrel) and chocolate flavoured peanut butter (Kraft).  Chia seeds were introduced in new yogurts (Olympic), cereals and breads. (Chia seeds are similar to flax seed and contain omega-3 fats and boost fibre.) Coconut was featured in whipped cream from Gay Lea Foods, and in Campbell’s Thai Tomato Coconut Soup.
5. Go Green theme was evident in several sustainable and environmentally friendly innovations. For example “Green” shopping bags are made of material that resists bacterial growth and the Green Lid bins are completely compostable containers made from recyclable cardboard and newsprint.

USA Restaurant Menu Labelling – What’s up? What’s Next?

sit-down-restaurant-menu (1)US national menu labelling is expected to come into force this summer. The new regulations aim to ensure calorie labelling on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants, retail food establishments, and vending machines with 20 or more locations.  We recently joined a US National Restaurant Association info session where we heard insights about what to expect next.

The intent of the menu labelling law is that: “People need nutritional information to exercise personal responsibility at the point of ordering in restaurants.” As such, the following 3 key features are expected on US restaurant menus and menu boards:

1. The number of calories will be disclosed with the word “Calories’ or ‘Cal’ posted next to number.
2. The following statement to help put the number of calories into context: “A 2,000 calorie diet is used as the basis for general nutrition advice; however individual needs may vary.”
3. Additional nutrients (such as fat and sodium) will be available upon request, but not necessarily posted on the menu.

Mandatory menu labelling is a controversial issue for reasons that include menu variability and questions about long-term impact. However, health and consumer groups welcome the calorie and nutrient information regulations.

Research shows that seeing calories on the menu impacts immediate purchase decisions and that consumers tend to underestimate the caloric content of menu items, especially those with higher calories.  It’s important to put calorie education in context so it does not become an issue whether the menu item is 400 or 420 calories. Menu labelling is about providing information so that consumers can make an informed choice between something that’s 1200 calories versus 200 calories.

Will Health Canada follow the US restaurant menu labelling? Only time will tell, and we’ll keep you posted. More information about next steps in menu labelling is available by contacting us.

Let you voice be heard! – New Canadian food label consultation is now open

nOn July 14th Health Canada invited consumers and stakeholders to provide input on proposed changes to the nutrition label. I encourage everyone with an interest in nutrition to participate!

The Canadian proposal follows consultation with consumers and health professionals and are similar to new food labels announced recently in the USA. In summary, the proposed label’s goals are to make comparing foods easier by providing more consistent serving sizes and updated formatting. Also there is an increased focus on calories and key nutrients important for public health. For more background, Health Canada’s made available three Fact Sheets on: Serving Sizes , Nutrition Facts table and Ingredient List and Sugar Content . Take a look at the proposed changes to the familiar nutrition facts panel and see if they make the label easier for you to understand and help you make more informed food choice decisions.  Health Canada’s open consultation is available until September 11, 2014. The link to participate is at http://surveys-sondages.hc-sc.gc.ca/s/labelling-etiquetage2/?l=en

 

Eating out – advice for consumers and restaurants

informed dining logoRestaurants are a part of every community and visiting one is a fairly common occurrence for many Canadians.  Infact, there are over 81,000 restaurants, bars and caterers across the country.  Meals or snacks from restaurants account for 1 in 10 meal occasions for Canadians according to Restaurants Canada, the national association representing the foodservice industry. Their survey also found that going out to a restaurant is the number one preferred activity for spending time with family and friends. It is no wonder that Canadians are increasingly interested in the nutritional quality of the foods offered in restaurants. Restaurants Canada’s research revealed that 92% of Canadians feel it is important to know the nutrition breakdown of the foods they eat out.  The top five types of nutrition information Canadians are interested in knowing are total fat, sodium, trans fat, calories and sugar. This type of nutrition information however is not as easy to find as one might expect on restaurant foods. Enter the Informed Dining program, an initiative that started in British Columbia and is now spreading across the country. Participating restaurants display the Informed Dining logo and provide consumers access to broad nutrition information before ordering a meal or snack.

Although the debate continues on the issue of restaurant menu labelling, consumers and professionals agree that nutrition knowledge is a useful tool in the journey towards healthy eating.  Recent research published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour suggests that combining three key purchasing strategies could significantly slash calorie intake while eating out. Here are my top tips for your personal and business interests:

Consumer Advice:

1. Keep it small and order fewer items.  Portion sizes at fast food counters and restaurants are usually bigger than what you would normally eat at home. Ordering smaller or fewer items will automatically cut calories, fat and salt. If your meal is larger than what you would like to eat share it with a friend, or ask to take leftovers home.

2. Select low calorie beverage or water. Drink water, low-fat milk or 100% fruit juice instead of soda pop. If you drink alcohol, limit it to one or two drinks for the day.

3. Consider nutrition information of menu choices and look for healthier options that are lower in calories, fat and sodium and higher in fibre. Ask your server for nutrition information or check out the new informed dining resource. Surf the informed dining website or the restaurant’s website ahead of time. Eat at restaurants that offer choices that meet your nutritional preferences.

Business Advice:

1. Offer healthier menu options and allow substitution for more vegetables

2. Reformulate menus to offer lower calorie choices / smaller portions

3. Be aware of calorie and nutrition information on your menu, share it with consumers and use it to help them make healthier choices

CFIA Labelling Consultations

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On October 22, we attended CFIA’s (Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s) Integrated Food Labelling / Regulatory Modernization Face-to-Face Session in Toronto. We learned more about the progress of ‘Safe Food For Canadians’ action plan, and contributed to identifying issues of importance for food and nutrition. The discussion focused on three initiatives, namely: 1. Proposed Imported Food Sector Product Regulations, 2. Food Regulatory Modernization, and 3. Food Labelling Modernization.

  1. Proposed Imported Food Sector Product Regulations. Food safety is a priority for regulators. Canadians already enjoy a world-class food safety system for food produced in Canada, however imports are received from over 190 countries many of whom have ‘safety systems in very formative stages of development’. CFIA wants to know who is making imported food and have the ability to trace them should a recall be needed. The proposed imported food sector product regulations would introduce food safety and licencing requirements for importers.
  2. Under Food Regulatory Modernization, CFIA will replace the 13 federal food inspection regulations including regulations for dairy, eggs, fresh fruit/veg, meat, fish etc. with a single set of food inspection regulations. The new risk-based approach to food puts the emphasis on outcome and will be less prescriptive of the process.  If you would like to add your perspectives to this important area of regulatory change, consultations are open until November 30th, 2013. Draft content for regulations is expected spring 2014.
  3. Food labelling is a shared responsibility at the federal level between Health Canada and the CFIA. Food Labelling Modernization objectives for CFIA include continuous improvement of partnership with Health Canada, and improved service delivery to industry needs around food labelling within its mandate.

To participate: Visit CFIA’s website to review the consultation documents and discussion questions, and how to submit your feedback. Take advantage of this opportunity and let your views be know!

CFIA Food Labelling Modernization Initiative – Survey

“The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has launched a consultation with consumer, industry and other stakeholders to identify ways to better respond to changing consumer expectations and industry needs related to labelling.

This review of Canada’s existing food labelling requirements will assess how the CFIA’s approach to labels can best provide consumers with the information they need to make meaningful and informed decisions. The review will also examine changes needed to allow industry to effectively market their products and communicate to consumers through labels.”

Let your voice be heard by completing the survey before August 30, 2013 at
http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/labelling/labelling-modernization-initiative/consultations/questionnaire/eng/1371096847742/1371096850664