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Dairy Facts 2016

Health Canada Seeks Comments on Mandatory Front-of-Pack Labels

Feb 28, 2018

Moving forward on a new labeling mandate, Health Canada took the next step toward requiring front-of-pack symbols on the labels of products with certain levels of saturated fat, sugars or sodium. Late last month, the agency proposed four versions of an icon intended to alert consumers to foods and beverages that contain 15 percent or more of the daily value for sodium, saturated fat or sugars. Meals and main dishes would be required to display the icon when they contain 30 percent or more of the daily value for these nutrients.

Health Canada proposes to allow exemptions for unflavored whole and reduced-fat milks because they “provide a protective effect on health.” Flavored milk, yogurt, cheese and frozen desserts all would require mandatory symbols.

The mandate, if approved, would go into effect December 14, 2022, and Canada’s recent nutrition label changes will be delayed to align all labeling changes.

Products with a small serving size that contain at least 5 percent of the daily value of saturated fat, sugars or sodium would be required to display a front-of pack symbol if 50 grams of the product would exceed the 15 percent of daily value threshold. The front-of-pack icons would be required to be presented in both English and French, either in a single bilingual format, or with two symbols, one for each language.

The required size of the icon would be based on the size of the overall package, with the icon being placed in the upper 25 percent of the front panel on most packages. Additionally, small packages with less than 100 square centimeters of available labeling space would be exempt from displaying a front-of-pack icon unless the label makes a nutrient content claim or another statement that triggers inclusion of the Nutrition Facts label.

Canada Health is seeking comments on the labeling proposal by April 26, 2018.

In addition to the front-of-pack proposal, Health Canada also announced:

  • Removal of “partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs)” from regulations, in advance of the country’s ban on PHOs that goes into effect in September 2018;
  • Updates to nutrient content claims;
  • An increase in vitamin D levels for milk, to 2 mcg per 100 mL of milk, which aligns with the recent changes in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s food additive regulations for vitamin D fortification of milk; and
  • Changes to labeling related to aspartame and phenylalanine that would make the labeling of all sweeteners consistent.

Read Canada Health’s summary of proposed amendments here.

Members with questions may contact Michelle Matto, R.D.N., IDFA’s labeling and nutrition consultant, at

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