What You Need to Know About Understanding Nutrition Labels
We see you, holding two cans of soup, deciding which one is a better choice. You may already know Nutrition Fact labels and ingredient lists are useful tools in determining if an item meets your nutritional needs. But they aren’t always easy to understand. Based on consumer feedback, Health Canada’s made recent changes to the these tools so they’re more useful to you!
The Nutrition Facts Label
Similar Serving Sizes
To make it easier for you, Health Canada now requires labels of similar food types to be the same serving size. They also changed serving sizes to reflect what we typically eat in one sitting so you don’t have to reach for a calculator.
Important Things Stand Out
No longer do you need a magnifying glass to identify key information. The serving size and calories are important elements of the table and are required to be easily identified. By incorporating larger fonts for serving size values and underlining the calorie amount, you can see these elements at-a-glance!
3. % Daily Value – New and Improved!
The % daily value (% DV) shows us how much of a nutrient is present in relation to our daily need.
To align with new research, the % DV reference amounts have been updated, and now there’s a % DV for “total sugars”, something the last version didn’t include. Additionally, a footnote on has been added to remind you that 5% or less is a little, and 15% or more is a lot.
It’s important to remember that many foods don’t have labels on them so the % DV isn’t meant to be a way to track your nutrient intake. Instead it’s a tool to make better choices when comparing and choosing packaged products.
K is in, A and C are Out
The Nutrition Facts label encourages you to choose foods that contain nutrients you may not get enough of. Potassium (K) is one of these nutrients. It’s important in maintaining blood pressure, and many Canadian don’t getting enough of this mineral so it was added! Vitamin C and A on the other hand tend to be vitamins that most Canadians get enough of, so they’re no longer required to be listed.
The Ingredient List
The Nutrition Facts Label isn’t the only thing that’s changed. Now when you see the Ingredient list on the package it’s much clearer and easier to read. The first noticeable change is the bolding of the Ingredients title, as well as the May Contain title that highlights potential allergens or items people may have sensitivities to.
These changes will help anyone with food allergies or sensitivities as they can identify certain ingredients easily and efficiently. Other formatting changes include using lower- and upper-case letters, using a white background and black font, having a minimum height for the font size and having a bullet, or comma between ingredient items. Sugars will also be grouped together so consumers can identify the various types of sugar added.
Do you read nutrition labels? If so, what do you look for?
Interested in learning more about how you can use nutrition label tools to make better food choices for you and your family? Book a FREE exploration session with one of Well.ca’s Registered Dietitians today!
Amy is a Registered Dietitian who believes eating well goes beyond just focusing on foods to avoid. She is passionate about educating on the impact eating well can have on all aspects of life in a realistic and simple way.