Do you struggle to make sense of food labels? Starting this year, reading food labels will become easier to read. Canada has made new regulations to nutrition labels that include improvements to the list of ingredients, the Nutrition Facts table and serving sizes. The food industry has a 5 year transition period to implement these changes but we may see the new labels as early as this spring.
From now on, the list of ingredients will be easier to read by standardizing the font size and color and clearly naming food colors and allergens. Another change is that all the types of sugars will be grouped together in the list of ingredients, so we can clearly see all the sugar together. Until now, manufacturers could mislead us by using small amounts of a few different types of sugar, so that each one is listed separately on the list of ingredients, which hides the fact that sugar is the first and predominant ingredient. There are so many different types of sugar and many of them might sound healthier than sugar like “brown rice syrup” but the truth is we need to limit our intake of all sugars. The example below shows how the new way of grouping sugars together makes it easy to quickly find the sugars and to see how much sugar is in a food, compared to other ingredients.
On the new Nutrition Facts table, a % daily value has been included for total sugars to help you compare the sugar content of different foods and to identify foods that are high in sugar, such as those with a sugar daily value of 15% or more. The new Nutrition Facts Table has also added the amounts of potassium, calcium and iron, since Canadians don’t get enough of these key nutrients. Have a look at the table below to see the updates to the Nutrition Facts table.
From now on, serving sizes listed in the Nutrition Facts table will be consistent across similar foods so you can easily compare foods. As well, the serving sizes will reflect the amount that Canadians typically eat such as 1 cup of cereal, 2 slices of bread and ¾ cup yogurt.
Whether you are watching your sugar or salt intake, or trying to get more fibre or protein, these new regulations will make it easier to read food labels and choose nutritious foods.
Cristina Sutter is a Private Practice Sport Dietitian at Optimal Performance Clinic in Vancouver. For more information, visit cristinasutter.ca.