Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Beyond sugar: Canada’s new nutrition labels

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Last week I wrote about the change to the sugar entry on the new nutrition facts label on foods. Of course, while most of us are focussed on this change, this isn’t the only change to come.

One of the other changes would be the removal of vitamins A and C from the nutrition facts panel. They would be replaced with Potassium and vitamin D. This is because it’s extremely rare for Canadians to be deficient in either vitamin A or vitamin C these days. However, most of us don’t get enough potassium and vitamin D (at least during the winter months). While in some ways I think that this is a good change, in others I’m not certain. The inclusion of these nutrients on nutrition labels provides us as consumers with valuable information. It also provides food manufacturers with the impetus to add potassium and vitamin D to foods in order to improve their nutrient profiles. Adding vitamins and minerals to a highly processed fairly unhealthy food won’t miraculously make it healthy. Generally, it’s better to choose natural sources of these nutrients.

Health Canada is also planning on standardizing serving sizes. This means that if, for example, you’re comparing one loaf of bread to another, the nutrition facts will have to be for two slices of bread. You won’t find one loaf that has the nutrition information for a single slice and another that has it for two. While it will definitely make comparison shopping easier it may also lead to some confusion about serving sizes. Yes, most of us will eat two slices of bread as a serving, but a Canada Food Guide serving of bread is still one slice. You don’t get to eat twice as many sandwiches as before and still consume an appropriate number of servings of grains and cereals.

In addition to the changes to the nutrition facts panel, the label will now also have to more clearly list the ingredients in an easy to read box. I don’t think that any of us (even me) can complain about that! As I’ve said before, you’re generally better off reading the ingredients than the nutrition facts panel.

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Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

5 thoughts on “Beyond sugar: Canada’s new nutrition labels

  1. I remembering visiting family in Canada when I was younger and was always amazed at the smaller sizes of food items like soda and yogurt in Canada versus the states. Is that still the case.? I have not been back to Montreal in a little over 10 years.

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    • Sadly, no. We’ve been graduating to larger and larger sizes. One of the sodas at the movie theaters is now the size of a tub and even the largest person would need two hands to carry it! I’m a big fan of quality over quantity but it seems that many subscribe to the reverse. Hopefully this trend will change soon!

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  2. Hi Diana! I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts! Im a recent grad of the msvu dietetics program and am curious to know how you keep up to date and in the loop with your nutrition information i.e. what are your favourite resources for local and national nutrition news, trends, fads etc. Thanks :)

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    • Thank you so much Allison! I use all sorts of resources. I get google alerts for food and nutrition, I’m on the nutrition resource centre mailing list, I subscribe to nutrition action magazine, when I read a newspaper or magazine article about a new study I try to find the original journal article to see for myself. I also take free online courses when I have the time. You can take ones through coursera among others. Webinars are also good, although you have to take note of who’s sponsoring them. I also follow RDs (and other health care professionals and researchers) from around the world on Twitter and read a number of blogs. Hope that’s helpful! Best of luck with your career!

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