Backgrounder Article from  Health Canada

Front-Of-Package (FOP) Nutrition Labelling

FOP nutrition labelling refers to simplified nutritional information displayed on the front of packaged foods, where it can easily be seen by consumers.

Providing Canadians with easy-to-use information about the food they buy

During Health Canada's nutrition labelling consultations in 2014 and 2015, Canadians expressed interest in having one government-led FOP system to help them make healthy food choices. FOP labelling is not a replacement for the Nutrition Facts table. It is a simple tool that can be used to complement the Nutrition Facts table. It will provide consumers with access to simplified, nutrition information to help them make healthier food choices when they are limited by time, motivation or relatively low health literacy.

Health Canada will engage the public and stakeholders over the coming weeks to seek feedback and input on a proposed FOP labelling approach. This approach will help Canadians make healthier and more informed choices, particularly on sugars, sodium and saturated fat. 

Helping consumers choose healthier foods

FOP labelling will make it easier for Canadians to choose healthy foods and has also been shown to encourage industry to improve the nutritional quality of foods.

Two main types of FOP labelling are currently used internationally. The first is nutrient-specific FOP symbols that display a few key nutrients of interest such as sodium, sugars and saturated fats. These may be highlighted with colours (red, yellow or green) to show if they are high or low in a particular nutrient. Chile recently introduced this type of approach for FOP warning labels on foods that are high in added sodium, sugars, saturated fat and calories.

The second system ranks or scores foods on how healthy they are by using a combination of nutritional information and dietary guidance. Examples of these include Guiding Stars in Loblaws stores and the “Smiles” approach in Metro stores. The Nordic keyhole symbol in Scandinavian countries, the Health Star rating in Australia and New Zealand, and the Choices International logo in Europe are voluntary FOP symbols used to indicate healthy food options.

Consumer research shows that FOP nutrition labelling could help consumers identify healthier foods more quickly and easily than information elsewhere on food labels, especially when the FOP label is visible and in a consistent location on the package.

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Hon. Jane Philpott Health Canada Health and Safety

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