Food Guide and Labelling
Canada's Food Guide defines and promotes healthy eating for all Canadians over the age of 2. It translates the science of nutrition and health into a healthy eating pattern and emphasizes the importance of combining healthy eating and physical activity. The nutrition label found on food products
is a useful tool in selecting foods for healthy eating by helping
consumers to choose foods according to healthy eating messages.
Canada’s Food Guide
What is the Food Guide Based on?
Food Guide is based on nutrition and food
science. A key reference is the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs). The DRIs summarize research findings about the amount of each nutrient and calories needed for good health and the prevention of chronic disease, while avoiding the negative effects of consuming too much of any individual nutrient. The Food Guide is based on a sedentary level of activity for all age/sex groups. (Sedentary activity includes typical daily living activities such as household tasks and walking to the bus.)
What are the key messages of the Food Guide?
Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide describes what amount of food people need and what type of food is part of a healthy eating pattern. The eating pattern recommends a variety of foods from the four food groups - Vegetables and Fruit, Grain Products, Milk and Alternatives, and Meat and Alternatives - plus a certain amount of added oils and fats. The recommended number of servings is an average of what people should try to eat each day and is different at different stages of life and is different for males and females. The Guide also suggests limiting foods and beverages high in calories, fat, sugar or salt (sodium) to help achieve good health and a healthy body weight. The number of calories in the eating pattern in Canada's Food Guide depends on the specific foods or beverages that a person chooses, as well as how the food is prepared.
Where are sugars described in the Food Guide?
For optimal health, Health Canada recommends that we get most of our daily energy (45-65%) from carbohydrate. That is why the Food Guide encourages Canadians to emphasize vegetables and fruit and grain products. These carbohydrate-rich foods naturally contain sugars. Sugars are also found naturally in milk products. Sugars are also added to a wide range of foods found in the four food groups, such as breakfast cereals, yogurt, and tomato sauce. Enjoyed in moderation, sugars add taste and enjoyment to healthy eating.
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Nutrition Labelling and Claims
Nutrition labelling refers to the nutrition information that is found in the "Nutrition Facts" panel on food labels. It has been mandatory for most pre-packaged foods since December 2005. The goal of nutrition labelling is to help Canadians make more informed food
choices, and enable consumers to compare products more easily. The
food label must list the total amount of calories and 13 different
nutrients. The regulations also include updated conditions for nutrient
claims, and for the first time, five new diet related health claims.
Sugars can be found in three different places on the food label
-- in the Nutrition Facts Table, in the Ingredient list, and in
a “nutrient content claim” if a specific claim about
sugars content is made.
Nutrition Facts Table
Facts Table provides information on Calories and 13 nutrients
for the serving size shown. As part of the total carbohydrate, sugars
and fibre must also be listed in the Nutrition Facts Table. Sugars
include sugars found in foods such as milk, fruits and vegetables,
as well as table sugar, honey and syrups. Sugars are listed in grams.
Carbohydrates - The total amount of carbohydrate
and two types of carbohydrate (sugars and fibre) in a serving of
food are among the 13 nutrients that must be listed in the Nutrition
Facts Table. Other carbohydrate components such as starch, soluble
and insoluble fibre, and sugar alcohols may be voluntarily listed
on the Nutrition Facts Table.
Sugars - Sugars - Sugars refer to all monosaccharides (e.g. glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (e.g. sucrose, lactose) naturally occurring in foods (e.g. milk, fruit and vegetables) or added to foods (e.g. table sugar, honey or syrups). Sugar (sucrose) from sugar cane or sugar beet has the same chemical make-up as the sucrose found in all fruits and vegetables. Sucrose, whether naturally occurring or added to foods, is identical to the body and has the same effects on health. This is true for all mono- and disaccharides; the source does not affect the chemical composition of sugars nor their effect on health.
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All pre-packaged foods require an ingredient list. The ingredient
list tells you what ingredients are in a packaged food, and are
listed by weight from most to least. Therefore, if sugars are in
the food product, they must be listed in the ingredient list. Some
examples of words that you may see on the ingredient list that refer
to sugar (and their source) are listed below:
Sugars listed in the
Source of sugar
|Sucrose, sugar, liquid sugar. invert sugar, molasses
||Sugar cane or sugar beets
|Glucose/fructose, dextrose, corn syrup solids, dextrin
|(concentrated) fruit juice
||Fruits such as pear, apple, grape for example
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Sugars may also be part of “nutrient content claims”,
which describe the amount of a nutrient in a food. A variety of
nutrient content claims pertaining to sugars are permitted, however
only the terms and wording outlined in the Food and Drug Regulations
can be used to make a claim. Permitted “sugars” claims
include the following:
Sugar – Related Claims
free of sugar, no sugar, 0 sugar, zero sugar, without sugar,
contains no sugar, sugarless
Contains < 0.5 g sugars per reference
amount and “free of energy” (< 5 cal per reference
reduced in sugar
reduced sugar, sugar-reduced, less sugar, lower sugar, lower
Compared to a similar reference food,
contains > 25% less sugars and > 5 g less sugars/reference
lower in sugar
less sugar, lower sugar
Compared to a reference food of the
same food group, contains > 25% less sugars and >
5 g less sugars/reference amount.
no added sugar
no sugar added, without added sugar
Contains no added sugars, no ingredients
containing added sugars or ingredients that contain sugars
that substitute for added sugars.
Meets requirements for “no added
sugar” and contains no sweeteners.
For more detailed information on sugar labelling and claims, click
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