Discuss Canada’s Food Labels; Nutrition Facts tables and Ingredient lists
- Nutrition Facts Table: Lists 13 core nutrients and identifies how much of each nutrient can be found in the serving size noted at the top of the table. By law, most packaged foods and beverages in Canada must have a Nutrition Facts table. Items that do not need a Nutrition Facts table include fresh produce, raw meat & poultry, raw seafood, foods prepared/processed in-store using in-store ingredients (e.g., bakery items & salads) and foods with very few nutrients (e.g., coffee, tea, spices).
- Ingredients List: Lists each ingredient based on its weight in descending order. Typically the ingredients found at the beginning of the list are present in the product in the largest amounts.
- % Daily Value: Tells you if there is a lot or a little of a specific nutrient in a product. If the %DV is ≤ 5%, there is a little of that nutrient in the product. If the %DV is ≥ 15%, there is a lot of that nutrient in the product.
- Nutrition Claims (Nutrient Content Claims and Health Claims): Nutrition claims on packaged foods are optional and don’t necessarily give us all of the information needed to make an informed decision. All foods with a claim must meet certain criteria, but some foods may not have a claim even though they meet the criteria. Nutrition claims are on the front of packages and easy to find, which is a marketing tactic. Always refer back to the Nutrition Facts Table.
- Nutrient content claims highlight one nutrient. For example, a food claiming to be low in one nutrient may be high in other nutrients of concern. By only highlighting specific nutrients or foods, you may be missing information.
- Health claims highlight key nutrients or foods and their role in reducing the risk of certain chronic diseases.
Start a Conversation: How can Nutrition Facts tables and ingredient lists help with making healthy choices?
- They can help you compare similar packaged products.
- They can help you look for packaged foods with more or less of a specific nutrient.
Activity Idea: Consider bringing in food and beverage labels from home to help students practice label reading skills. Avoid asking students to bring in food and beverage labels from their own homes. Although it may seem harmless, it may result in unintended feelings of shame and/or judgement by peers as students share and compare labels.
Start a Conversation: What are some examples of marketing and advertising that influence your food choices?
- Commercials on TV
- Social media ads
- Radio ads
- Food packaging (e.g., statements, colours, images, characters)
- Contests or games
- Celebrity endorsements
- Sponsorship of events
Discuss ways to critically evaluate and/or decrease exposure to marketing and advertising so that they influence your food choices less.
- Before choosing a product, ask yourself why you are choosing it. Do you truly want it, or is marketing and advertising influencing your decision?
- Try to decrease your exposure to marketing and advertising (e.g., spend less time on screens, eat more meals at home).
- Talk with family and friends about the power of marketing.