The Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) consolidates and modernizes previous food related acts under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), namely the Canadian Agricultural Products Act, the Fish Inspection Act, the Meat Inspection Act, and the food provisions of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act.
By consolidating these acts, the CFIA hopes to provide consumers with a safer food supply. One area of focus for the SFCA is food labelling under the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act, as improved labelling can help Canadians make informed food choices. These are the three areas of change that are being proposed.
The method that nutrients are presented on packaged foods as a whole will be changed with:
- The enlargement of the serving size and calories for easier reading
- A daily value percent for sugars, along with an explanatory footnote outlining how much sugar is in the food and how it affects a typical diet (e.g., 5% or less is a little or 15% or more is a lot)
- Adding potassium to the list of nutrients, due to most Canadians not getting enough in their diet and the importance of potassium with maintaining regular blood pressure
- Removing vitamin A & vitamin C from the list of nutrients due to most Canadians reaching their daily limits with regular diets
The serving size on food labels is as area that has many proposed changes. There are three key areas targeted for changed in addition to the previously mentioned enlargement on the nutrition label:
The Measurement of Comparable Food
One area of confusion on food labels is the amount of food shown per portion of food products that are comparable (for example, two containers of yogurt showing different measurements). The proposed changes aim to group similar products with similar measurements, such as flour, rice, yogurt and milk.
Amounts in Pieces
Food products that measure their portions in pieces will be paired with its equivalent in grams. These foods include crackers, chips, cookies, bagels, etc. The serving size for these products will have to be as close to 20 grams as possible. This will also be applied to foods that are divided before they are eaten, like frozen pizza, lasagna and wheels of cheese.
Amounts Typically Eaten
Certain food products will have their serving size reflect the way they are typically eaten, such as sliced bread, breakfast cereals and certain meats.
List of Ingredients
In addition to the nutrients and portions, the list of ingredients on food packages is also being targeted for an overhaul. These changes include:
- Adding the bolded phrase “contains” that shows if the product has any priority food allergens
- The separating of ingredients by bullets
- Sugar-based ingredients to be grouped after the common name “sugars”
These proposed labelling standards are just one of the changes that will be introduced with the SFCA. Other areas that will be impacted include licensing standards, trace-ability & record keeping, and the new requirement of a Preventative Control Plan for any company that deals with food or food products.
(The information for this article was provided by Health Canada)