news & trends

The Future of Food – Five Trends with a Big Impact

future of food bill gates notes 2018-06-01_1-08-23

 

At the recent Food and Beverage Ontario Annual General Meeting in Toronto, we shared top trends that will have a big impact on the future of food – both in retail and foodservice. Here’s a snapshot of our expert dietitian insights.

1. Eating healthier is a universal goal for all Canadians

Food that tastes great and nourishes the body rank high on Canadians’ wish list. In designing menus, especially where calories are now displayed, foodservice teams and food makers can help make the calories count for health and wellness! To unlock the potential of food, consider a perfect pairing of a chef and registered dietitian for your next menu update.

2. Demographics

Kids, millennials and seniors all have unique nutritional needs. Schools and retirement/nursing homes are also regulated for the kinds of foods they can sell. Workplace wellness is catching up with guidelines on how to achieve better eating habits that can result in more productive workforce. Have you seen the ‘sell more’ and ‘sell less’ lists? Give us a shout – we can help!

3. Plant based eating

Pant foods are the mega trend. ‘Plan based diet” is one of the top google searches by Canadians 2017! Consumers are looking for more plant based menu items in foodservice as well. Don’t make the mistake of just removing the meat from your menu! Vegetarian meals should also be well balanced and include a minimum 20g protein per meal. Registered Dietitians have the tools and tips to help chefs make the switch to balanced vegetarian menu items.

4. New food regulations influence food choices

You may wonder who reads food labels anyway. Research shows that more than 2/3 of Canadians read food labels to help them decide which foods to buy and eat. Labels also provide highly credible & prominent information on foods. The New Nutrition Facts Label and proposed new Canada’s Food Guide focus on limiting saturated fat, salt and sugars. These tools are the foundation for nutrition communication and menu development in many institutions. What’s your plan to leverage the power of the label in marketing?

5. Grand designs & food halls

Foodservice is embracing showcase exhibition food prep to capture the excitement of cooking “onstage.” Open kitchens are transparent and underscore the consumers’ desire for fresh food. New grocery stores and food halls delight consumers with a mix of hot-food stations, ‘grab’n go’ items and ‘do it yourself bowls’. The future of eating out is personalized and tech savvy.

(Image Source: GatesNotes)

What’s the Definition of Unhealthy Food and Beverages for Children?

summer, childhood, leisure and people concept - group of happy k

On May 8, 2018, Health Canada published an updated on its proposed direction for the development of regulations to restrict marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children. Here’s what you need to know.

Background
In 2015, the Government of Canada made a commitment to restrict the marketing of unhealthy foods to children (M2K). In 2016, Senator Greene Raine introduced Bill S-228 –the Child Health Protection Act – which would protect children’s health by prohibiting the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children. This is a key element of Health Canada’s Healthy Eating Strategy, which aims to curb obesity and chronic disease among all Canadians. On June 10, 2017, Health Canada launched a 75-day public consultation.

Update on proposed direction
Bill S-228 was studied by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health from April 18 to 30, 2018. During this study, two amendments were made to the Bill:
– To define “children” as persons under the age of 13 (instead of age 17) which follows suit with the Quebec Consumer Protection Act; and
– To require Parliament to review the legislation within 5 years of the Act coming into force, particularly to assess whether the age limit of 13 years results in increased advertising to teenagers.

What’s next?
Health Canada is developing regulations to implement the proposed prohibition on the advertising of unhealthy foods and beverages to children. The approach will be modelled after Quebec where restricted marketing of all products and services to children has been in effect since the late 1970s.

The new regulations propose to define “unhealthy” food as food that exceeds the threshold for the nutrient content claims “low in sodium/salt”, “low in saturated fat”, and / or “low in sugars” OR as food that carries a front-of-package symbol (a symbol which is proposed to appear on any food that contains 15% or more Daily Value [15% DV] for sodium, saturated fat and / or sugars).

Under this proposed definition, here are examples of food that would / would not be allowed to be marketed to children:

Foods without marketing restrictions

• Vegetables or fruits (fresh, canned, frozen) without added ingredients (e.g. sodium, sugars)
• Low sodium french fries
• Peanut & nut butter, natural
• Plain nuts & seeds
• Plain fluid milk from skim to 3.25%
• Unsweetened plant-based beverages
• Yogurt (plain)
• Cereal, ready to eat, wheat, shredded
• Cereal, hot, oats, minute/quick, dry
• Plain whole grains (e.g., barley, quinoa, brown rice, oats)
• Low sodium crackers
• Low sodium breads
• Snacks (plain popcorn, low sodium chips)
• Plain pasta
• Plain legumes (e.g. beans, lentils)
• Lean cuts of meat and poultry
• Plain fish and seafood

Foods subject to marketing restrictions
• Processed meat
• Soft drink, regular
• Condiments
• Confectioneries
• Most vegetables or fruits (fresh, canned, frozen) with added ingredients (e.g. salt, sugars)
• Fruit & vegetable juices
• Regular french fries
• Peanut & nut butter, fat and sugar added
• Candied or salted nuts & seeds
• Flavoured fluid milk
• Sweetened plant-based beverages
• Most sugar-sweetened ready-to-eat breakfast cereals
• Instant sugar-sweetened oatmeal
• Most crackers
• Most breads, white and whole wheat
• Snacks (flavored popcorn, chips)
• Most muffins, brownies, cookies, cakes
• Meat & poultry breaded, coated, with sauces, etc.
• Fish & seafood breaded, coated, with sauces, etc.

Health Canada is also setting out:
– Factors to determine if an advertisement is directed at children through child-focused settings, media channels and advertising techniques; and
– Exemptions to the prohibition, such as for children’s sports sponsorship.

Later this year, Health Canada will publish the detailed regulatory proposal in Canada Gazette, Part I at which time, members of the public and interested stakeholders will have an opportunity to provide feedback. We’ll keep you posted and let you know when it’s time to voice your opinion!

International Trends

Food regulations are changing all around the globe and we’re keeping an eye on international policies that may impact your business. Click here to discover more about 3 impactful changes – USA Menu Labelling, Ireland Sugar Tax and WHO Marketing to Kids. Contact us to discuss more about these emerging trends and the connection to your business and health and wellness.

  1. USA Menu labelling goes national
Menu labelling usa N4NN news May 2018
(Image source: FDA.GOV)

USDA’s menu labelling has reached the compliance deadline.  As of May 7, 2018 USA consumers now have access to calorie and nutrition information in restaurants and similar retail food establishments that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations. This information inspired competition among producers to formulate food in ways that make it more healthful. In 2017, Ontario became the first province in Canada to include mandatory menu labelling of calories. What’s your plan to leverage the power of food? Are you using science-based attributes to make your foods healthier? We are Registered Dietitians who can help!

Source: US Food & Drug Administration, Menu Labeling Requirements and Marion Nestle PhD www.foodpolitics.com

  1. Ireland’s new sugar tax on soft drinks takes effect May 1st.
sugar tax N4NN news May 2018
(Image source Independent ie Newsdesk)

 

Irish consumers are now seeing that high-sugar drinks have become more expensive under the Sugar Sweetened Drinks Tax. The 16c tax applies to water or juice-based drinks with between 5-8g of sugar per 100ml. The soft drinks tax rises to 24c per litre for varieties with more than 8g of sugar.

The tax only applies to water and juice-based drinks with added sugar. Fruit juices and dairy products are exempt from the tax on the ground that they offer some nutritional value.

Regulators expect soft drinks companies will reformulate their products in order to avoid the tax. The move has been welcomed by the Irish Heart Foundation.  It is hoped the sugar tax will play an important role in tackling Ireland’s obesity crisis, with one in four Irish children currently overweight or obese.

Back here at home, the North West Territories is considering a sugary drink tax in 2018-2019.

Source: Independent.ie Newsdesk

  1. UN WHO weighs in against Marketing to kids

WHO M2K N4NN news May 2018 M2K N4NN news May 2018
(Image source:WHO.org & Nutrition for NON Nutritionists)

UN health officials consider plan to ‘outlaw’ fast food giants from charitable work with kids says a memo reported in the news. UK media says WHO calls for ‘stringent regulation’ to block firms, such as KFC and McDonalds from marketing fast food to under the age of 18. This report is consistent with published WHO workplan to end childhood obesity. This implementation plan included tackling the marketing of unhealthy foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children. The Commission advised to adopt, and implement effective measures, such as legislation or regulation, to restrict the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children and thereby reduce the exposure of children and adolescents to such marketing.

Marketing to Kids (M2K) is a key issue in Canada too. On May 1, 2018, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health proposed to reduce the age of restriction to under age 13 (from under age 17). Final regulations are expected to be released in June.

Source: WHO Executive Board 140th session, Steve Hawkes, Deputy Political Editor The SUN(UK)

Unlock the power of protein to keep your muscles strong

protein power pic 2 2018-02-05_11-43-04

When & how much protein we eat are KEY factors in maintaining and building strong muscles. Experts presented the latest research on the power of protein at the Candian Nutrition Society’s 2018 conference in Toronto. We were there and in this posting we translate the science to help support your health and muscle building whether it’s for daily living or sports performance. Read on for our out top tips and best sources of protein to help you build stronger muscles!

WHEN: 

Spread out your protein intake evenly over three to four meals a day. To maximize your muscle strength, include protein rich foods at every meal. The biggest challenge for most Canadians is meeting their protein intake at breakfast so look for ways to pump up the protein in your morning meal. Athletes, remember get some protein into your body just before bedtime to ensure these muscle building nutrients are on board while you sleep!

HOW MUCH:

As dietitians, we love food and are passionate about its power. Protein intake recommendations for most people are to aim for 20-30 grams of protein at every meal.  Athletes Note: A meal containing about 0.3 g protein/kg body mass,  eaten every 3 hours supports the greatest post-exercise muscle synthesis  after resistance exercise! A bedtime protein intake is also recommended for athletes so muscle building proteins are on board while you sleep!

Check out some examples of protein in foods and choose foods from the table below to help increase protein in your diet. Have questions about protein intake? Leave a comment or contact us!

protein booster foods 2018-02-05_12-05-18

Sodium Content in Many Processed Foods Still Too High

Different Kinds Of Salts In Spoons

Did you know that 77% of the sodium in our diet comes from processed food? According to Health Canada, 80% of Canadians are eating too much sodium which can lead to hypertension, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. While sodium has been recognized as a public health issue for over a decade now, food manufacturers have been working to lower the sodium content of processed foods by the end of 2016 using Health Canada’s voluntary sodium reduction targets. Were their efforts good enough?

Background: In 2012, Health Canada published interim sodium targets (known as Phase I, Phase II and Phase III targets) for various categories of food. Food manufacturers had until the end of 2016 to reduce the sodium content of their foods to meet these target levels. This three phase approach was designed to encourage gradual sodium reductions while still maintaining product safety, quality and consumer acceptance of the food’s taste. The goal of these targets was to lower Canadians’ sodium intakes from 3,400 mg/day to under 2,300 mg/day without requiring consumers to actively choose lower sodium foods.

Evaluation Results: Last year, Health Canada evaluated the food industry’s efforts to meet these sodium reduction targets and recently reported the findings:
– 28% of food categories met Phase I sodium reduction targets (e.g. breads, crackers, hot instant cereals, canned vegetables and legumes)
– 10% of food categories met Phase II reduction targets (e.g. cookies, ready-to-eat cereals, vegetable juices)
– 14% of food categories met Phase III sodium reduction targets (e.g. cottage cheese, bacon bits, tomato paste, toddler mixed dishes)
– 48% of food categories did not make any progress in sodium reduction (e.g. dry cured and fermented deli meats, refrigerated and frozen appetizers and entrées, frozen potatoes).

2018 02 - sodium reduction results pie chart 4

Recommendations & Next Steps:
This evaluation report show that modest sodium reductions have been made in most categories of processed foods. While these reductions will still help Canadians consume less sodium, the results were overall disappointing to Health Canada. Voluntary targets may not be strong enough to reduce sodium in our food supply. A more structured voluntary approach may be needed. Other options include a regular sodium-monitoring program and public reduction commitments by manufacturers.

Health Canada plans to conduct an in-depth analysis of each food category and meet with industry stakeholders and scientific expert to better understand the challenges around food safety, shelf life and functional roles faced during efforts to reduce sodium.

With the proposed new front of pack labelling regulations, packaged foods high in sodium, sugars, and / or saturated fat will be identified with a specific icon or symbol. This new regulation will up the pressure for further sodium reductions in food. Sodium will also be a key consideration when Health Canada introduces new regulations to restrict the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to kids.

Are you ready to reduce the sodium content of your products? Would you like to share your sodium reduction success story with consumers and media? We can help. Contact us at info@nutritionfornonnutritionists.com.

Choline – the forgotten nutrient

Egg cracked

There’s a growing buzz about choline and for good reason. Choline is essential for a healthy pregnancy and healthy brain development at all ages. And while choline was officially recognized as an essential nutrient in 1998, it’s only recently been added to the list of nutrients which can be voluntarily disclosed on Nutrition Facts Tables in both Canada and the USA.

Health Benefits of Choline
One of the main roles of choline is to produce a specific neurotransmitter called acetylcholine which plays a crucial role in sending messages from your brain to your muscles. During pregnancy, choline helps prevent the development of neural tube defects in the growing baby. Choline also helps to move fat out of your liver, which can prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. According to the National Institutes of Health, there may be a link between choline and better cognitive function and memory as we age. Ongoing research is exploring the connection between choline and heart health too.

How Much Choline Do You Need
The amount of choline needed depends on your age. High intakes of choline from supplements can cause a fishy body odour, vomiting, excessive sweating and salivation, low blood pressure as well as potential heart and liver problems.

choline DRI chart


Food Sources of Choline

Our bodies produce small amounts of choline, but not enough to meet our daily needs. Liver, eggs (more specifically, egg yolks), meat and tofu are among the best food sources of choline.

choline food sources 3

Is your food product a source of choline? Talk to us about how to successfully communicate the benefits of this nutrient.

Top 3 Trends & Winners at Grocery Innovations Canada 2017

Lucia GIC grocery trade show 2017 gic 2017 show pic

Grocery Innovations Canada (GIC) is a ‘must attend’ annual event for professionals in the grocery and specialty food business. This year’s conference and trade show offered tips for growth, innovation, and best ways to connect with consumers.  Here are 3 TOP TRENDS we recognized in some of the award winning products.

  1. Pack it with protein
  2. Make it Fresh
  3. Keep it simple & clean for labels

Pack it with protein
Food makers are adding and highlighting protein in just about every category. It’s true that consumers are looking for protein but many people are confused about how much they need and where are the best sources of this important nutrient. As dietitians, we translate the science and find that Canadian nutrition recommendations encourage people to include plant based proteins and balance their protein intakes throughout the day, especially at breakfast.

Two of the 2017 Grocery Innovation award winners featured a protein claim.
•     EGGbakes (Burnbrae Farms Ltd.) with about 13 grams protein per 95 g serving.
•     PrOATein Premium Nutritional Bar (PrOATein) 15 grams protein per 50g bar.

gic 2017 egg burnbrae

Grocery Innovation 2017 Proatein

 

 


Make it Fresh
Demand for fresh food is on the rise (Euromonitor). We saw many packages inviting us to eat with our eyes first, using windows to let fresh food peek through and beautiful fresh food images on pack. Adding a story about where the food was grown and who cared for it makes packaged fresh food a consumer attraction. One of the top 10 winners of the 2017 Grocery Innovations Awards captured this trend: Ready-To-Eat Fresh Fruits & Vegetables (Nature Knows Inc.) showcasing fresh grape tomatoes, blueberries or grapes.

gic 2017 nature knows

Keep it Simple – the food label that is.
Consumers are looking for a clean label which may be interpreted as a combination of ‘free from’ features as well as an ingredient list that is easy to read, understand and not too long. Simply Simple Kefir+ Overnight Oats (A&M Gourmet Foods Inc.) was voted as one of the top 10 most innovative products.
gic 2017 kefir overnight oats

food labelling changes n4nn

You already know Canadian packaged foods are preparing to update their labels to comply with new Ingredient list and Nutrition Facts Table regulations.  Are you working with food brands and rethinking your food offerings? If you have questions about food and health contact us. As Registered Dietitians we are Canada’s trusted experts who translate the science of nutrition into terms everyone can understand. We unlock food’s potential and support healthy living for all Canadians. Reach us for reliable advice at info@NutritionForNonNutritionists.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW Front of Pack Labelling Update – 3 tips on how you can prepare for the big changes ahead.

N4nn fop labelling nov 2017
Photo Credit: Health Canada

  1. WHAT?
    Front-of-Package Nutrition Labelling update is out – read it here!

Health Canada just published the future of Front-of-Package (FOP) nutrition labelling based on proceedings from Sept. 18, 2017 Stakeholder Engagement Meeting. The document’s summary and subsequent social media comments from scientists and regulators signal big changes for food makers.  Although ‘no firm decisions were reached and re-designed symbols would be subjected to further consultations,…Health Canada concluded that a mandatory ‘high in’ front-of-package labelling system is the most appropriate to use’.  Front-of-Package examples included warning symbols implemented in other countries such as Chile and Ecuador. Are you ready for something like this?

N4NN 2017 fop graphic

  1. SO WHAT?
    Consider if your packaged foods may have to show warning labels on front-of-package.

The ‘high in’ Front-of-Package label approach may require a black and white warning label on pack in the future but consumers already have a tool to focus on the 3 nutrients of public health concern in the NEW nutrition facts table (NFT). Have you considered what the % Daily Value (% DV) for sugars, sodium and saturated fat tells about foods? The NFT footnote explains the % DV as this:  5% or less is a little, 15% or more is a lot. The new FOP will make sure that the negative attributes of food products are represented to help Canadians make informed food choices. Health Canada recognizes that there is a gap in labelling between packaged foods and those sold in in grocery or restaurants.  Future work with provincial and territorial counterparts will aim to find the best way to provide nutrition information in restaurants and other food service establishments.

  1. NOW WHAT?
    Speak to a Registered Dietitian with food labelling expertise to plan your strategies.

Health Canada says ‘discussion is very important in moving this forward and we need to get it right’. We agree and encourage you to connect with Registered Dietitians who are regulated professionals accountable to the public based on the highest standards of science and ethics.  Our influence runs deep and we look beyond the fads and gimmicks to deliver reliable advice that supports healthy living for all Canadians.

Contact us to help you meet the demands of rethinking food labelling and to guide your team in unlocking food’s nutrition potential.

 

Health Canada Bans Main Source of Trans Fats in Foods

Trans-Fats

Trans fats. They’re the worse type of fat because they pose a double whammy to your heart health – not only do they increase the bad “LDL” (Low Density Lipoprotein” cholesterol, but they also decrease the good “HDL” (High Density Lipoprotein” cholesterol. Eating trans fats increases the risk of heart disease.

While some foods contain small amounts of naturally occurring trans fats, the real concern is with foods containing “artificial” or “industrially produced” trans fat. The main source of this type of trans fat is partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) which are oils that have been created during a process called hydrogenation. This process changes the structure of liquid oils into a solid at room temperature. PHOs extend the shelf life of foods and are typically found in commercially baked goods (e.g. pastries, donuts, muffins), deep fried foods, French fries, hard margarine, lard, shortening, frosting, coffee whiteners, some crackers and microwave popcorn. When you see the words “partially hydrogenated oils” in the ingredients list, you know that the food contains trans fats.

While the food industry has been voluntarily removing trans fats from products over the years, many foods still contain trans fats. On September 15, 2017, Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor announced a ban on PHOs from all foods sold in Canada, including foods prepared in restaurants, “Eliminating the main source of industrially produced trans fats from the food supply is a major accomplishment and a strong new measure that will help to protect the health of Canadians.”

The ban will come into effect on September 15, 2018.

[Photo credit: NewHealthAdvisor.com]

What’s the truth about Coconut Oil?

coconut oil N4NN newsletter

At our 10th annual N4NN course this year, participants asked many questions that you may be wondering about too. We’ve busted some myths that are worth sharing – for example, the facts about Coconut Oil!

 A lot of information is out there about coconut oil, leaving consumers confused about the truth. Since coconut oil comes from coconuts, it could have a nutty flavour and appear as liquid or semi-solid at room temperature. You may wish to use it in your cooking for its flavour or texture, but remember it’s still 100% fat so use in moderation!

The scientific research does not hold up sufficient evidence to say that coconut oil has health benefits. For heart health, studies show canola and olive oils are better for you.  Enjoy a small amount of healthy oils – 30 to 45 mL (2 to 3 Tbsp) – each day.

Do you have nutrition questions? Let us know and we’ll answer it in a future newsletter or in our social media postings. Follow us @NutritionTraining @SueMahRD  @LuciaWeilerRD

 

Free Exclusive Webinar – News in Nutrition Labelling!

N4NN DC webinar postcard

Eleven million Canadians are living with diabetes or prediabetes. The Glycemic Index (GI) may be useful to assist people with diabetes, or at risk of developing diabetes, pick foods that help them manage their blood sugar levels.

We’ve partnered with Diabetes Canada for an exclusive free webinar on nutrition labelling.

Join us on Wednesday October 11, 2017 @ 1-2 pm ET for a FREE Exclusive Webinar and be the first to learn about:
– Consumer behaviour trends related to nutrition labelling
– Diabetes Canada’s healthy eating strategy
– New research on Canadians’ understanding and perceptions of Glycemic Index and carbohydrates
– Glycemic Index labelling – an opportunity to influence consumer behaviour

Speakers:
Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc – Co-Founder, Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists
Lucia Weiler, BSc. RD, PHEc – Co-Founder, Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists
Joanne Lewis, RD, CDE – Director of Nutrition & Healthy Eating, Diabetes Canada
Seema Nagpal, BSc Pharm, MSc, PhD – Senior Leader Public Policy, Epidemiologist, Diabetes Canada

REGISTER NOW as spaces are limited! The webinar will be recorded and available to registrants.

 

Health Canada Consultations – Let your voice be heard ( EXTENDED Aug 14)

Now is THE time to let your voice be heard about food, nutrition, way of eating and sustainability! We know this comes just before summer vacations, but consider that the policies formed following these three consultations will influence how Canadians hear about food, nutrition and sustainability for years to come.

Health Canada chose Dietitians of Canada annual conference on June 9th to announce the latest federal food and nutrition consultations. As part of the Healthy Eating Strategy, there are 3 public consultations live/on-line now and more are expected in the Fall. Please contact us if you have any questions about what this means to you and your business.

Here is a bird’s eye view of what the consultations are about. We encourage you to let your voice be heard and complete these surveys that will help shape the future of nutrition in Canada.

Canada’s Food Guide Consultation (Phase 2)

Food guide cropped consult'n banner N4NN June 2017

Health Canada is revising Canada’s Food Guide to strengthen its recommendations for healthy eating. This is the second round of consultations that is built on what the government heard from 20,000 Canadians who responded to the first round of consultations in 2016.  If you are using healthy eating recommendations for yourself and others you care about, or to help others through your work, we encourage you to complete the survey and join the discussion. This is your chance to weigh in on key issues related to healthy eating and provide input on the new healthy eating recommendations.

http://www.foodguideconsultation.ca/ EXTENDED till Aug 14, 2017.

Marketing to Kids

No ads to kids N4NN June 2017
Image Source Health Canada
Health Canada wants to reduce how much advertising children see or hear about unhealthy food and beverages. “This is a complicated subject so before action can be taken, some questions need to be answered, such as what we mean by unhealthy food and what kind of advertising should be allowed. Your ideas and opinions will help Health Canada decide how to go about restricting advertising for unhealthy food and beverages to children. This consultation document is available online between June 10 and Aug 14, 2017.”[1]

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/programs/consultation-restricting-unhealthy-food-and-beverage-marketing-to-children.html

[1] Health Canada (2017) Restricting unhealthy food and beverage marketing to children

Canada’s Food Policy

Food Policy N4NN newsletter June 2017

Food matters to Canadians. We “make choices every day about food that directly impacts our health, environment, and communities.” Agriculture Canada would like to help put more affordable, safe, healthy, food on tables across the country, while protecting the environment. This policy will cover the entire food system and you may have heard of the concept as ‘Farm to Fork’. An online survey is now open at www.canada.ca/food-policy and we encourage you to share your views that will help shape Canada’s food policy. Online consultations is open until July 27, 2017

 

What’s on the MENU? Calorie labelling!

what's on the menu blog march 2017

Have you noticed the new calorie labelling on Ontario chain restaurant menus? Operators, servers and consumers are coming to grips with the new reality of revealing calories in a serving of food. We’ve been busy moderating partnership events and engaging with stakeholders about the challenges of the new menu labelling. The events were in collaboration with Canadian Association of Foodservice Professionals (CAFP), Restaurants Canada and Dietitians of Canada.

A shout out to fellow dietitian Donna Bottrell who did a terrific job organizing the events, and to Nancy Hewitt President CAFP Toronto for her support.

CAFP lucia moderator event
From left: Donna Bottrell, organizer of the event; Nancy Hewitt, CFE, President of the CAFP Toronto Branch; Susan Somerville, Dean, from Humber College, and Panelist Jamie Rillet and Moderator Lucia Weiler.

Here is a snapshot of what we heard:

  • ‘Medium and small chains are looking for guidance and consistency from the Government.’ Jamie Rilett, Restaurants Canada
  • ‘It’s challenging for a server to explain the calorie range for a serving size. More support and education would be helpful’ K.B.Bose, Shoeless Joe’s
  • ‘There is the nutrient variable to consider and educate about. How to address the fact that milk has more calories than pop but it’s also more nutritious?’ Katie Jessop RD
  • ‘Collaboration is needed between food professionals: chefs, dietitians and nutritionists.  And we are eating foods- not just one food. Food combinations in menus can help create healthier options. Nutrition professionals can assist operators and consumers.’   Lucia Weiler RD
  • ‘A lot of time was spent by Aramark in the initial analysis…they made sure to standardize recipes and then tested and tested which led to a recipe database.’ Karen Williams, Aramark
  • ‘Menu calorie labelling is just the beginning. There is a future importance for all aspects of nutrition and food, especially sustainable processing. Millennial consumers are very conscious about the’ what’ and the ‘how’ of food.’ K.B.Bose, Shoeless Joe’s

For more stakeholder views and participant feedback please contact us. We would be happy to help your team formulate unique insights that integrate our Registered Dietitian expertise in food and nutrition and provide you with solutions that both foodservice professionals and consumers can use.

Is there added sugar in your favourite foods?

Sue Heather - 2

A recent study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that 66% of packaged foods contain at least one type of added sugar in the ingredients list. Registered Dietitian Sue Mah shared her thoughts on CBC News Network.

Watch the TV interview.

The study found that added sugars were present in products from baby food, baked goods and cereals to frozen dinners, snacks and yogurts.

Sugar, especially added sugar has been under fire for its association with health issues including heart disease, diabetes, dental cavities and obesity. Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages. This does not include naturally occurring sugars which are found in foods such as fruit, milk and yogurt.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends limiting added sugars to a maximum of 10% of total calories in a day. For an average 2,000 calorie diet, 10% is about 48 grams or 12 teaspoons of added sugars a day.

In the USA, added sugars must be disclosed on nutrition labels by July 26, 2018. The situation differs here in Canada. Added sugars will not be disclosed on nutrition labels. Health Canada has set the % Daily Value (%DV) at 100 grams for total sugars (added sugars plus naturally occurring sugars).

Here’s our expert dietitian advice:

1. Read the Nutrition Facts table. Foods with 5 grams or less sugar per serving would be considered to have “a little” sugar whereas foods with 15 grams or more sugar per serving would be considered to have “a lot” of sugar.

sugar a little a lot

2. Read the ingredients list. By 2021, different sugars will be identified individually and grouped together as “Sugars” on the ingredients list. In the meantime, look for ingredient names that indicate sugar or end in ‘ose’ which are sugars too (e.g. dextrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, sucrose).

3. Look at the whole food.
Just because a food has little or no sugar doesn’t mean that it is a healthy or nutritious choice. Choose wholesome, foods for minimal sugar and maximum nutrition.

4. Contact us
to discuss how the new sugar labelling laws will impact your business and communications.

Top 2017 food and nutrition trends

RD registered dietitian USA

Our top 10 food and nutrition trends signal big changes for the year ahead and include a renewed focus on quality and enjoyment of food, sustainability, clean eating and influential new regulations. Read on for more of our expert advice on trends that will impact consumer food choices. Let us know what you think…

1. Clean Eating
Consumers demand to know exactly what is in their food and where it comes from so they can make informed choices that are in line with their values. For mindful decisions, the ingredient list, the food source and recipe composition are all becoming more significant factors.

2. Kids & Youth
Health Canada identified promoting the importance of healthy eating in children and youth a priority. Look for more resources, reports and dietary guidance to help establish healthy eating habits at an early age.

3. Enjoy food in the company of others
Food is a powerful way to connect with people which has benefits well beyond nutrition. We’ll see focus on bringing back the pleasure of everyday shared meals, cooking and conversation.

4. Sustainability
Taking care of the planet is a priority with a strong millennial focus. Look for ways to eliminate food waste, use up less than perfect looking fruit/veg, eat food before it spoils, package in compostable or biodegradable materials.

5. Protein Power
Protein continues to be a nutrient of great interest at every meal occasion, especially breakfast. Expect increased attention to plant based protein sources in healthy recipes such as tofu, nuts, seeds, pulses (dried beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas).

6. Food Security
Let’s recognize the importance of equitable access to affordable, wholesome, healthy foods and drinks for all Canadians. Supporting best health through good nutrition for everyone is driving a variety of new efforts.

7. Veggie Believers
Growth of vegetarian, vegan and other plant-focused foods are fueled by consumers looking for ways to boost their veggie intake at home and while eating out. Find more ways to make half your plate veggies.

8. Digestive Health – Feed Your Fiber Famished Gut!
Keeping your gut healthy involves eating probiotics that feed the friendly bacteria that live in your intestine. Canadians get less than half of the daily recommended amount of fibre, so look for more tips on boosting fibre intake, specifically probiotic type fibres for digestive health. More information is available on probiotic fibres at http://bit.ly/2jPasvW 

9. New Food Labels and Claims
Health Canada through a commitment to transparency and ongoing regulatory modernization is revamping the packaged food label and Canada’s Food Guide. Calories, sugars, fat are focus on packaged foods and calories are required on restaurant chain menus. Check CFIA guidelines for any statements that may be made about the nutritional value of foods or menu items to help you avoid any violations.

10. Dietitians are Most Trusted Experts in Food & Nutrition
Many Canadians get their food and nutrition information from the ‘Wild Wild Web” of the internet which has so much misinformation. Instead, look to dietitians, the most trusted experts in food and nutrition. We do the hard work of studying the evidence, reviewing the research and translating the science to credible recommendations that you can use.

Let’s start a conversation! Join us on April 26th 2017 at our 10th annual Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists Course

2016 Nutrition News – A Year in Review

cauliflower-crisis-best-image

2016 has definitely been a year for trending food and nutrition issues! Here’s our recap of the top three nutrition headlines of the year plus what you can expect in 2017.


1. CAULIFLOWER CRISIS

Who can ever forget the $8 sticker shock on a head of cauliflower in January?! It became the poster child for rising food prices in Canada. According to the CBC, the price of fresh veggies rose by 13% in the past two years.

What to expect in 2017: The average Canadian family can expect to pay up to $420 more for food next year, according to Canada’s Food Price Report, an annual publication by researchers at Dalhousie University in Halifax. The price of meats, fish, seafood and fresh vegetables may rise as much as 4 to 6 percent. Lead author Sylvain Charlebois points to weather disruptions caused by La Nina, energy related costs and the tanking Loonie as factors affecting the price hikes.

What you can do: Look at grocery store flyers and use e-coupons. Plan your meals and plan to use the leftovers too.

2. INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF PULSES
Declared by the United Nations, the International Year of Pulses successfully raised our awareness of pulses and their many health benefits. Chef Michael Smith, Canada’s ambassador of the International Year of Pulses, kicked off the year with an invitation for all of us to take the Pulse Pledge and eat pulses at least once a week for 10 weeks.

What to expect in 2017: The buzz about pulses will continue, starting with Global Pulse Day which occurs January 18th of every year. It’s a global event to celebrate pulses and continue the momentum of the 2016 International Year of Pulses. With rising food costs, look to economical and versatile pulses to be a staple on your grocery list.

What you can do: Plan to eat at least one meatless meal each week using beans, peas, lentils or chickpeas.

3. SUGAR TAX
In February, the Dietitians of Canada released a position statement calling for a 10-20% excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages such as soft drinks, fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks and specialty coffee / tea beverages seems to be linked to excess weight in both kids and adults. In March, the Senate Report on Obesity also recommended a new tax on sugar-sweetened and artificially-sweetened beverages as one of many efforts to fight obesity in Canada.

What to expect in 2017: Sugar will continue to be under fire. In his Spring 2016 budget speech, Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau pledged to help families make better choices, including actions to include more information about added sugars on food labels. Earlier this month, Health Canada opened a public consultation about its proposed front-of-package nutrition labels. For the first time ever, sugar would be called out as one of the three nutrients that can negatively affect our health if consumed in excess. Health Canada proposes to set the % Daily Value (%DV) for total sugars (natural and added sugars) at 100 grams per day. Under these proposed new labelling regulations, foods which contain 15 grams or more of total sugars per serving would be considered “high in sugars” and carry a warning symbol.

What you can do: Share your opinions about nutrition labelling. 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.

Have questions about upcoming trends or how Health Canada’s proposed front-of-package labelling may affect your business? We can help. Contact us at: Info@NutritionForNonNutritionists.com

New Nutrition Labels are Coming!

nutrition-labels-old-vs-new-bigger

After two years of public consultations, Health Canada has finalized the changes to the Nutrition Facts table and ingredients list on packaged foods. On December 14th, 2016, the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health announced that these changes are all part of the strategy to help make healthy food choices the easy choice for all Canadians.

Here’s a quick at-a-glance comparison of the old versus the new Nutrition Facts table as well as Ingredients lists.

The new Nutrition Facts table places a greater emphasis on calories, potassium, calcium and iron. For the first time ever, total sugars will have a % Daily Value (%DV) set at 100 grams:

nutrition-labels-old-vs-new-bigger


All food colours will now be listed by their name rather than collectively listed as “colours”:

ingreds-list-new


Different types of sugars will still be individually identified, and will now also be grouped together as “Sugars”:

ingreds-list-sugars

The food industry has 5 years (until 2021) to make these changes, but you may start seeing new labels as early as next year.

Contact us at: Info@NutritionForNonNutritionists.com for more information about these label changes and to discuss how the proposed regulatory changes to front-of-package labelling will impact your business.

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: Info@NutritionForNonNutritionists.com

 

New food guide consultations are 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.  The last time CFG was changed was 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 13 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!

MYTHBUSTING Carbs & Whole Grains

whole-grains-n4nn-2016Carbs vs Whole Grains. What’s the difference? Carb confusion is ongoing and we’re often asked about what are the best carbs for health. Whole grains are healthy carbohydrates (carbs) and a terrific choice but many people struggle to find or cook with whole grain foods.

Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel, and the benefits of whole grain carbs go beyond energy to include nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, iron and fibre, as well as phytochemicals and antioxidants. Research shows that whole grains lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and obesity.

Whole grain refers to the seed of a plant that has all 3 edible parts – the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. You’ve heard that going for whole grains is good for you and Health Canada recommends making at least half your grain choices whole grains.

Here are 5 ways to get more whole grains in your day:

  1. When shopping for food, look for the word ‘whole grain’ on the ingredient list. Best bets are foods where whole grain is the main ingredient and appears as first on the ingredient list.
  2. Don’t be fooled by ‘multigrain’ claims because these simply mean more than one grain is in the food. Check the ingredient list to be sure that you’re getting a whole grain.
  3. In Canada, whole wheat flour may have much of the germ removed. Therefore ‘100% whole wheat’ doesn’t mean it’s also whole grain. Check the ingredient list for the words ‘whole grain whole wheat’.
  4. When cooking or eating out, try different kinds of whole grains for variety of taste and texture. What better way to boost health than switching up your whole grain picks.
  5. Here are some the of whole grains chefs and consumers are trying, and we encourage you to test some of these terrific carbs too: amaranth, barley, bulgur, brown rice, buckwheat, farro, freekah, kamut, millet, oatmeal, quinoa, sorghum, spelt, teff, and triticale.

    Bon Appétit!

Dare to Compare… Ice cream vs Gelato

gelato ice cream 2016 JuneWith 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

Health Canada announces three new health claims

Health pic from Sue June 1, 2016

In May 2016, Health Canada announced three new health claims:

1. EPA & DHA and blood Triglyceride Lowering

2. & 3. Polysaccharide Complex (Glucomannan, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Alginate) and Blood Cholesterol Lowering and Reduction of the Post-Prandial Blood Glucose Response

Foods containing the healthy fats EPA and DHA (0.5 g combined) may now carry a new health claim stating their potential triglyceride-lowering benefits. For example, a permitted claim might read, “85 g (1/2 cup) of canned pink salmon supplies 40% of the daily amount of omega-3 EPA and DHA shown to help lower triglycerides.”

Aside from that primary statement, appropriate products can also carry the additional statement “EPA and DHA help reduce/lower triglycerides,” Read the detailed info here.

The food ingredient that is the subject of two new health claims is a soluble and viscous dietary fibre (polysaccharide complex of glucomannan, xanthan gum, sodium alginate) sold under the brand name PGX® (PolyGlycopleX®). Researchers studied the carbohydrate quality of foods with PGX using the glycemic response, glycemic index. The benefits of added fibre in the form of PGX helped help lower blood cholesterol and moderate the blood sugar rise after a meal. Sample claim: “The consumption of the 5 g of PGX® provided with 1 cup (30 g) of cereal helps reduce blood glucose rise after a meal containing carbohydrates.”
The summary of assessment is available online.

Please feel free to contact us with your questions on food labelling and claims.

FDA introduces new Nutrition Facts Table

The Nutrition Facts Table (NFT) in the USA is over 20 years old. On May 20, 2016, the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) introduced the new label to help consumers south of our border make informed choices about the food they buy and eat.

NFT old versus new 2016 v2

Here’s a brief summary of the key changes that will take effect by July 2018 on USA food labels:

1. Serving size and servings per container – are now highlighted in larger font and/or bold. Serving sizes have been updated.
LIKE: This underscores the importance of portion sizes.
DISLIKE: The serving sizes are based on the amounts of food and beverages that people are actually eating, not on the amounts that they should be eating. For example, the serving size of ice cream was previously ½ cup but is changing to 2/3 cup.

2. Calories – are now highlighted in extra large font (how can you miss it?)
LIKE: With a global obesity crisis, calories have become the simple currency of weight. We tend to underestimate the calories that we consume.
BUT…Calories does not tell the whole story. Remember to look at the bigger picture of nutrient density and food quality. A Greek yogurt parfait with nuts and fruit may have more calories that a donut – but which is the healthier choice?

3. Calories from fat – have been removed
LIKE: We know that the quality and type of fat is more important that the amount of fat.

4. Added sugars – makes a debut on the new USA NFT. The %DV (% Daily Value) is set at 50 grams.
LIKE: Consumers are hearing more about sugar and health. According to the FDA, research shows that it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within caloric limits if you consume more than 10% of your total calories from added sugars. Disclosing the amount of added sugars on the label will help consumers better distinguish between the natural sugars versus the added sugars in the food.

5. Vitamin D and potassium
– are required to be declared on the USA NFT, along with calcium and iron. For each of these, both the actual amount and the %DV amount are listed. Vitamins A and C are no longer mandatory, and can be listed on a voluntary basis.
LIKE: Since many of us are probably not getting enough Vitamin D, potassium, calcium and iron, these nutrients are of public health significance.

6. Footnote – is added to help put the %DV into context for consumers.
LIKE: The %DV is an easy way for consumers to determine whether the food has a little (less than 5% DV) or a lot (15% DV or more) of a nutrient.

The real question now is – will Health Canada follow suit with our NFT?
We’ll keep you posted as it happens!

Senate Report on Obesity

Senate-report-Obesity-in-Canada-p1-normal

Almost 2/3 of adults and 1/3 of kids are overweight or obese. The obesity crisis is a complex issue. What can be done?

In their report Obesity in Canada released earlier this month, the Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology made 21 recommendations to chart a course for a leaner, healthier future. Here are some of the key recommendations which are generating a healthy discussion:

– The federal government assess the options for taxation levers with a view to implementing a new tax on sugar-sweetened as well as artificially-sweetened beverages.
– The Minister of Health:

  • immediately undertake a complete revision of Canada’s food guide in order that it better reflect the current state of scientific evidence.
  • reassess the daily value applied to total carbohydrates based on emerging evidence regarding dietary fat and the fat promoting nature of carbohydrates and require that the daily intake value for protein be included in the Nutrition Facts table.
  • assess whether sugar and starch should be combined under the heading of total carbohydrate within the Nutrition Facts table and report back to this committee by December 2016.
  • encourage nutrition labelling on menus and menu boards in food service establishments.

    Obesity is a multi-factorial issue with no easy solution. Join in our upcoming Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists course (April 20, 2016) to get our in-depth POV on these recommendations and issues, or contact us to discuss how these recommendations will impact your business innovations and communications.

  • Health Canada announces proposed changes to the food label and Nutrition Facts table

    On June 12th, Health Canada shared a proposed Nutrition Facts table aimed to improve nutrition information on food labels. As part of the consultation process you are invited to provide comments in writing to Health Canada by August 26, 2015. This is the right time to get involved let your voice be heard! In general, the proposed changes are as follows:

    • Serving sizes will be regulated to make them consistent and reflect what is typically eaten (e.g. a serving of bread will be 2 slices instead of 1 slice)
    • The information about serving sizes and calories will be more prominent
    • Sugars will have a new % Daily Value (%DV) of 100 grams and sugars will be grouped together in the ingredients list
    • The %DV for carbohydrates will be removed
    • A footnote will appear at the bottom of the Nutrition Facts table to explain that 5% DV or less is a little and 15% DV or more is a lot
    • Food colours will be identified by their common name in the list of ingredients
    • A new health claim will be allowed, “A healthy diet rich in a variety of vegetables and fruit may help reduce the risk of heart disease”
    • Vitamins A and C will be removed from the Nutrition Facts table, and potassium will be added
    • The actual amounts in milligrams (mg) of potassium, calcium and iron will now be shown in addition to their % DV

    Contact us if you would like to discuss the interpretation of the proposed label changes and how they may impact your business. We can also assist with your comments to Health Canada during the consultation phase which ends August 26, 2015.

    Let your voice be heard! Help shape Canada’s new food labels

    Health Canada recently announced proposed new changes to the Nutrition Facts table and ingredients lists with the goal of improving nutrition information on food labels. We encourage you to you consider the proposed changes and voice your opinion to Health Canada through their 10 question on-online survey and/or technical consultation before September 11th, 2014.

    Some of the key proposed changes include:

    • listing Calories in a bigger and bold font
    • using consistent serving sizes on similar foods
    • increasing the Daily Value for fat and calcium, and decreasing the Daily Value for sodium
    • removing the % Daily Value for fibre and total carbohydrates
    • adding information about added sugars by including a % Daily Value for sugars as well as showing the amount of added sugars in the product
    • removing vitamins A and C, but adding potassium and vitamin D to the label
    • grouping nutrients that we should limit (fat, sodium and sugar) at the top half of the label
    • grouping nutrients that we need to get enough of (fibre, vitamins, minerals) at the bottom half of the label.

    The consultation period is now open, and all consumers and stakeholders are invited to provide input on the proposed changes. We strongly urge you to let your voice be heard and share your feedback in shaping this important national nutrition labelling regulation.

    Health Canada has developed three consumer fact sheets about Ÿ Serving Sizes, ŸNutrition Facts table and Ingredient List and  Sugar Content.  Consumers can provide their feedback through a 10 question online survey.

    For food and health professionals, there is also a series of five technical consultation documents which explain the rationale for the proposed changes: Ÿ Format Requirements, ŸCore Nutrients, ŸDaily Values (%DV), ŸReference Amounts and Ÿ Serving Sizes. You are also invited to provide feedback to each of these consultation documents.

    All comments must be submitted to Health Canada by September 11, 2015. Please contact us for assistance in reviewing the proposed changes, providing feedback to the consultation, and discussing how these changes may impact your products’ nutrition claims.

    Smiles in the Grocery Store

    My Healthy Plate with Metro program has recently been announced in Ontario and Quebec. With a goal to help customers adopt healthier eating habits, the program highlights healthy choices using “smile” icons. The smiles are found on the product’s shelf price label, and identify the “good” and “great” choices in a product category.

    Specific nutritional criteria for the “good” and “great” ratings were established for 34 product categories by Metro’s Registered Dietitians. So far, all frozen, dairy and refrigerated products, breakfast items and drinks were evaluated. Remaining grocery categories will be assessed in early 2014.

    As we’ve noted in our Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists course, grocery stores can be important champions of change. A year ago, Loblaws launched their Guiding Stars Program, identifying foods with one to three stars depending on its nutritional value. Research published in the journal Food Policy found that the Guiding Stars Program shifted consumers’ purchasing habits towards healthier cereals with more star ratings.

    And just a few months ago, Sobeys announced their partnership with world-renowned chef Jamie Oliver.  Under a brand positioning “Better food for all”, Sobey’s will focus on four main pillars: enjoying fresh and tasty food; shopping for healthy and wholesome products; saving time; and choosing sustainable products. Sobey’s is the first major retailer in North America to offer Certified Humane®chicken, pork and beef meaning that the animal was treated humanely from birth to slaughter, including having a nutritious diet without antibiotics or hormones, and sufficient space/resting areas.

    CFIA Labelling Consultations

    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.

    Menu labelling – would you like 90 minutes of walking with that?

    The conversations about menu labelling continue. Dr. David McKeown, Toronto’s Chief Medical Officer of Health supports mandatory menu labelling of calories and sodium, while some researchers wonder whether “physical activity equivalent” labelling is a more effective strategy.

    McKeown urges the province to enact its own law, but if the province doesn’t do so by September, he plans to develop a Toronto-specific bylaw for chains with more than 15 restaurants. Critics say that calorie and sodium counts alone don’t allow consumers to make informed choices. A Diet Coke for example, has fewer calories than a glass of milk, while a bagel might have more sodium than a cookie.

    Stephanie Jones, the Ontario VP of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association endorses British Columbia’s voluntary Informed Dining program, in which participating restaurants post nutrition information in a brochure or poster, rather than on the main menu.

    And here’s another POV. Preliminary research shows that consumers may be more motivated to choose foods with fewer calories when restaurant menus show how much exercise is needed to burn off those calories. For example it would take 90 minutes of walking to burn off the calories in this hypothetical ham sandwich. It’s an interesting concept, indeed!

    Sodium – what now?

    Bill C-460, a Private Members Bill introduced last November by NDP MP Libby Davies, was recently defeated by a vote of 147 against versus 122 in favour. The Bill would have called for warnings on foods that exceeded Health Canada’s Sodium Reduction targets. Meanwhile, the Institute or Medicine (IOM) raises questions about the benefits of very low sodium consumption.

    According to a new report by the IOM, studies support recommendations to lower our sodium intakes from the 3000+ mg currently consumed daily by Canadians. However, the evidence does not seem to support sodium intakes to below 2300 mg per day. Lowering sodium intake too much may adversely affect certain risk factors such as blood lipids and insulin resistance, and thus potentially increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

    So, what now? Based on the sodium reduction strategy experience of the UK, it will realistically take years for us to reduce our average sodium consumption to 2300 mg. As dietitians, we continue to recommend that consumers read nutrition labels to choose lower sodium foods. Cooking from scratch will also empower consumers to use low or no sodium ingredients and seasonings. Get more sodium reduction tips from Health Canada.