BAC has responded with a solid NO to Health Canada’s proposal to implement Front of Pack (FOP) warning labels on foods which it deems high in sugars, saturated fat and sodium. BAC believes that a healthy food choice is more complex than basing consumption on one, two or three nutrients and should include the promotion of the healthy benefits of the whole food. According to Health Canada’s own consultation document, FOP aims to improve food labeling to help make it easier for Canadians to make healthier food choices at the grocery store. However, in its proposal, Health Canada further quoted: “the Codex Committee on Food Labeling supported the need to assist consumers in making healthier choices through the use of simplified, science-based nutrition information on the front of packages…” the system proposed in this same document, while simplified, is not based on the most recent science: • It only looks at three negative nutrients of public health concerns without addressing the association between excess calories and portion size, a major factor in obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. • It does not look at the nutrients of public health concern that Canadians do not consume enough of, including fibre, potassium, calcium and iron. • It establishes a warning label triggered by criteria that are neither evidence-based nor universally accepted and which Health Canada itself describes as a “rule of thumb”. • The consumer food consumption data Health Canada used to support its proposal is almost 15 years old and woefully outdated. • Today’s Health Canada’s FOP proposal is a copy of a similar measure implemented by Chile in 2013 which Canada (along with the U.S. and others) at the time strongly opposed at the World Trade Organization Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade over a lack of scientific support.
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