You may have noticed that there is nutrition information on many food packages in the grocery store. Canada introduced a new system for providing nutrition information on food labels in 2003. These new regulations are applicable to almost all prepackaged foods, ensuring the Nutrition Facts table has a consistent "look", and making it easy to find and read. As of December 12, 2005, most companies are required to have a Nutrition Facts table on their food products.

To help you better understand the new food label, a tool called the Interactive Nutrition Label was created by exploring the new interactive tool, you can learn how to use nutrition information to make more informed choices about the foods you buy.

Following Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide can also help you make healthy food choices.

Nutrition Facts Table showing the nutritional value of whole kernel corn. The Nutrition Facts table includes Calories and 13 nutrients: Fat, Saturated fat, Trans fat, Cholesterol, Sodium, Carbohydrate, Fibre, Sugars, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron.

You can use the Nutrition Facts to:

Compare products more easily
Determine the nutritional value of foods
Better manage special diets
Increase or decrease your intake of a particular nutrient

Use the Nutrition Facts table to help you make informed choices. Making healthy food choices can help reduce your risk of nutrition-related chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Specific Amount of Food

All the information in the Nutrition Facts table is based on a specific amount of food. Be sure to compare this amount to the amount you eat.

The first thing you should do when you read the Nutrition Facts is to:

1. Look at the specific amount of food listed.
2. Compare it to how much you actually eat.

The specific amount may be indicated by:

A phrase such as: a slice, one egg, two cookies, followed by the metric measure.
Familiar household units such as mL, cups, tablespoons, or a fraction or unit of food (e.g., 1/4 pizza), followed by the metric measure (g, mL) (e.g., 175 g yogurt).

% Daily Value

Use the % Daily Value to see if a food has a little or a lot of a nutrient.

The % Daily Value is:

-- a benchmark for evaluating the nutrient content of foods quickly and easily;
-- based on recommendations for a healthy diet; and
-- used to determine whether there is a lot or a little of a nutrient in a specific amount of food.

Use the % Daily Value to make food comparisons

The % Daily Value provides a quick overview of the nutrient profile of the food, allowing product comparisons based on more than one nutrient. It puts nutrients on the same scale (0% - 100% Daily Value). You can quickly identify the strengths and weaknesses of a food product.

Here are two Nutrition Facts tables:

Chicken Burger

Nutrition Facts Table showing the nutritional value of a chicken burger

The specific amount of food, listed in the Nutrition Facts, is the same for both products.
Compare the % Daily Value to determine what product has the most iron.
Calories and Core Nutrients
Calories and the same core nutrients are always listed in the same order. A consistent look makes the Nutrition Facts table easy to find and use.

Nutrition Claims

Use nutrition claims to make informed food choices.

The Government has rules in place that must be met before a nutrition claim can be made on a label or advertisement. The rules for nutrition claims apply to all foods, prepackaged and not prepackaged, no matter where they are sold.

A manufacturer can choose whether or not to include nutrition claims on the label or in the advertisement of a food. Many products will have nutrition claims as these claims highlight a feature of interest to consumers.

Examples of Claims

Source of Fibre

Manufacturers of food can highlight a product's nutrition features using claims such as "Source of fibre". "Source of fibre" means the food contains at least 2 grams of dietary fibre in the amount of food specified in the Nutrition Facts table.

Low Fat

"Low" is always associated with a very small amount. "Low fat" means that the food contains no more than 3 grams of fat in the amount of food specified in the Nutrition Facts table. In a healthy diet, the recommended range for fat intake is approximately one third of total Calories.

Cholesterol Free

The claim "Cholesterol-free" means that the product has a negligible amount (less than 2 mg of cholesterol in the amount of food specified in the Nutrition Facts table) and it is also low in saturated fat and trans fat.

Sodium Free

"Free" is an amount of a nutrient so small that health experts consider it nutritionally insignificant. A "sodium-free" claim means the amount of food specified in the Nutrition Facts table contains less than 5 mg of sodium.

Reduced in Calories

"Reduced in Calories" has at least 25% less energy (Calories) than the food it is being compared to.


When referring to a nutritional characteristic of a product, "light" is allowed only on foods that are either "reduced in fat" or "reduced in energy" (Calories). "Light" can also be used to describe sensory characteristics of a food, provided that the characteristic is clearly identified with the claim (e.g., light tasting, light coloured).

List of Ingredients

Bran Cereal

Ingredients: Whole wheat, wheat bran, sugar/glucose-fructose, salt, malt (corn flour, malted barley), vitamins (thiamine hydrochloride, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, d-calcium pantothenate), minerals (iron, zinc oxide).

The list of ingredients is mandatory and has been on the food product package for many years. All of the ingredients for a food are listed in descending order by weight. The ingredients present in the greatest amount in a product are listed first. Therefore, in this example, whole wheat is the ingredient present in the greatest amount, since it is listed first.

The list is also a source of information for people who want to avoid certain ingredients or verify the presence of an ingredient in a food.

Info courtesy Health Canada
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