On June 30, 2022, Health Canada introduced new nutrition labelling regulations for packaged foods, which require to indicate a symbol on the front of packages (FOP) indicating if a food is high in saturated fat, sugars and/or sodium. The regulations will come into effect on July 20, 2022. A grace period will be given for the industry to make changes until January 1, 2026.
Frequent consumption of foods high in sodium, sugars or saturated fat would increase health risks, such as stroke, obesity, heart disease or even some types of cancer. By adopting the front-of-package nutrition symbol, Health Canada intended to facilitate consumers’ selection during shopping and support health professionals in educating people about foods science knowledge.
Foods that will require a FOP nutrition symbol include:
- General prepackaged foods that meet or exceed 15% DV of saturated fat, sugars or sodium, e.g., deli meats, soups, frozen desserts and puddings.
- Prepackaged foods with a small reference amount (≤ 30g or mL) that meet or exceed 10% daily value of saturated fat, sugars or sodium, e.g., pickles, salad dressing, cookies and breakfast cereals.
- Prepackaged main dishes with a reference amount of ≥ 200g* that meet or exceed 30% daily value of saturated fat, sugars or sodium, e.g., frozen lasagna, meat pie and pizza.
*170g for main dishes targeting solely for children at 1 to 4 years of age
Foods exempt for health-related reasons include:
- foods with a protective effect on health, such as fruits and vegetables without added sodium, sugars, or saturated fat
- foods that are important sources of “shortfall nutrients”, such as yogurt and cheese
- foods that are formulated to meet the needs of specific populations, such as individual rations for military personnel
Foods exempt for technical reasons include:
- foods that are not sold directly to consumers or those in very small packages
- foods that do not require a Nutrition Facts table
- raw, single ingredient ground meats and poultry
Foods exempt for practical reasons include:
- foods on which the FOP nutrition symbol would be redundant, such as packages of sugar, honey, maple syrup, table and flavored salt, as well as butter and other fats and oils.
How to use the FOP nutrition symbol
The use of the symbol is regulated on its size, location and language:
- The size of the package determines the size of the symbol. Make sure it can be easily seen on packages of all sizes.
- For most packaging shapes, the symbol shall appear on the top half of the label. If the label width is greater than its height, it shall appear in the right half of the packaging label. See the example below.
- The symbol shall be in both English and French. There could be two separate symbols, one in English and one in French, or both languages on the same symbol.