Health Minister launches online consultation on nutrition labels

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Federal Minister of Health, the Honourable Rona Ambrose (left), speaking with parents Terri Pruden (centre) and Carol Cluett (right). Ambrose hosted a food labelling consultation with parents at the Morinville Christian School in March. – Morinville News File Photo

by Stephen Dafoe

Federal Minister of Health Rona Ambrose launched a series of online public consultations Monday on proposed changes the federal government believes will improve how nutrition information is presented on product labels.

Proposed changes will affect formats for the Nutrition Facts table, ingredient lists, nutrient lists, and the presentation of the Daily Values derived from the food product. Additional proposed changes would group sugars together to provide consumers with a clearer understanding of how much sugar is in the product, and serving sizes would be more in keeping with the amounts Canadians actually eat in one sitting.

The online consultations follow a series of one-on-one consultations Minister Ambrose held with women across the country earlier this year, including visits to Gibbons and Morinville in mid-March of this year.

At that time Ambrose said the government initiative was prompted by rising and alarming rates of childhood diabetes, alarming rates of childhood obesity, and heart issues appearing in younger and younger Canadians. The Minister expressed her concern that the current label was not giving people enough information about how to make a healthy choice. It was a feeling echoed by the moms she had spoken to “What I am hearing from moms across the country … is that our nutrition label is a little complicated and it doesn’t provide you with the obvious,” Ambrose said at the time of her Morinville visit. “We want to make it easier to understand. We want to make it easier when someone looks at that label to know what the healthy choice or what the unhealthy choice is. That then will make it easier for them to make a healthy choice for their family.”

The cross-country consultations ended in April and were followed by a What We Heard report in June; a document that reflected the feedback received from Ambrose’s consultations as well as those of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s Food Labelling Modernization Initiative.

The online consultations will run until Sept. 11, 2014, and can be accessed at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/minist/messages/_2014/2014_07_14-eng.php

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