Finally, after first being proposed in 2013, on July 20, 2022, the Canadian government amended the Food and Drug Regulations by mandating new nutrition symbols for pre-packaged foods. The changes target packaged foods that contain certain levels of saturated fat, sugars and/or sodium.
What is Happening?
The changes target packaged foods that contain certain levels of saturated fat, sugars and/or sodium and the packaging will be required to include an image of a magnifying glass issued by Health Canada, along with the verbiage “High in” on the front of prepackaged foods. This is applicable to products that contain or exceed certain thresholds of saturated fat, sugars or sodium, depending on the type of preparation of the packaged foods. The application of the Health Canada graphic will also vary depending on the size and shape of the packaged food.
Why is this Happening?
These changes are part of the Canadian government’s targeted approach to encourage healthier food choices and greater transparency for consumers in the food industry, as spearheaded by Health Canada’s Healthy Eating Strategy.
When is this Happening?
The changes have a sunrise period and will become mandatory on January 1, 2026.
How can you Avoid This?
Of course, by sufficiently lowering the saturated fat, sugars and/or sodium to less than the thresholds, you can avoid this. In addition, there are exemptions to the application of this new mandate, such as:
· Foods that have a recognized health benefit or contain important nutrients are exempted, if they are not made with added ingredients that contain saturated fat, sugars and/or sodium;
· Foods that do not require a nutrition facts table do not require the nutrition symbol;
· Foods where the nutrition symbol would be redundant, for example salt, butter, etc.
What are your Next Steps?
Given that the requirements have a sunrise period and will not come into effect until 2026, there is time to prepare for compliance with this new requirement. First, there may be an opportunity to reformulate your product ingredients to lower the saturated fat, sugars and/or sodium, thereby creating a healthier product. Alternatively, conducting an audit of the ingredients in each food product against the new threshold regulations to ascertain which packaging will have to be updated would be wise to undergo sooner than later.
If you need assistance with steering through Canada’s food labelling and packaging requirements, please do not hesitate to contact us at Froese Law.