nutrition warnings

Canada to require nutrition warnings on some packaged food

Starting in 2026, Canada will require that nutrition warnings are posted on the front of pre-packaged food with high levels of saturated fat, sugar, or sodium.

According to the Canadian Press, the key reasoning behind the move is to help grocery shoppers make healthier choices with just a glance. The policy has been in the works for more than five years.

Products with the so-called “nutrients of public health concern” that have been linked to conditions such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes will be clearly marked. In general, the nutrition warnings will be placed on pre-packaged foods that contain more than 15 per cent of the suggested daily value of saturated fat, sugars or sodium.

Health Canada said the new labels will complement, rather than replace, the more detailed nutrition information that’s typically on the back of food packaging. For pre-packaged meals, the nutrition warnings will only go on items with more than 30 per cent of the recommended daily intake, and for foods sold in increments of less than 30 grams, the labels will apply if they contain more than 10 per cent of the daily recommendation.

After pushback from the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, which said the policy would “vilify” ground meat and make people think it’s a less healthy choice than whole cuts, Health Canada has exempted single-ingredient ground meat from the warning labels, even if it’s high in fat. The product was deemed to have health benefits in spite of the “nutrients of concern,” along with milk, many cheeses, and fruit, reports the Canadian Press.

Packages of sugar and salt will also be exempt, as the government said including labels on such products would be redundant.

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The plan to put warnings on the front of food packages was first floated as part of Health Canada’s “healthy eating strategy” in 2016, and consultations continued in 2018. The government is giving companies until 2026 to implement the change to help them either manage the cost of packaging overhauls or reformulate food.