Read between lines on label

(NC)-Nutrition claims such as “reduced in fat” or “very high source of fibre” are often seen in advertising and on food labels. They are a quick and easy way to get information on a food’s nutritional features. Their bold type and banner-formats make them hard to miss on the front or sides of food packages.

Now you will start to see other types of nutrition claims. These claims highlight well-known relationships between diet and disease. For example, “a healthy diet low in saturated and trans fats may reduce the risk of heart disease”.

It’s important to know that nutrition claims have been and continue to be regulated by the federal government. In order for manufacturers to use a claim, the food must meet certain criteria set in the regulations. The regulations apply to all foods and specify the exact wording used in the claim to ensure that it is consistently used and not misleading to consumers.

Nutrition claims are optional, so manufacturers can choose whether to use them, or not. Two similar products may not have the same claims on their labels. This does not mean that the product with the claim is superior. While claims are a good starting point, you need tcheck the Nutrition Facts table to get the details.

Tips for using nutrition claims:

. “Low” is always associated with a very small amount. “Low in fat” means the food contains no more than 3g (grams) of fat in the amount of food specified in the Nutrition Facts.

. “Reduced in calories,” means the food contains at least 25% less energy than the food to which it is compared.

. “Source of fibre” means the food contains at least 2g of dietary fibre in the amount of food listed under the Nutrition Facts. A food with the claim ‘High source of fibre’ contains at least 4g in that amount of food.

. “Less” is used to compare one product with another. For example, a box of crackers claiming to contain “50% less salt” will have half the salt of the food to which it’s compared. It doesn’t necessarily mean the product is low in salt, so check the sodium content in the Nutrition Facts.

. “Cholesterol free” may lead you to think the product is also low in fat, but that’s not necessarily the case. Vegetable oils contain no cholesterol, and may have this claim but are still very high in total fat.

You can get more information on nutrition labelling and claims by calling 1-800-O-Canada (1-800-622-6232), or by visiting:

– News Canada