Healthy Eating Initiative

March 7, 2018 by Todd Sprieszl, Innovate Phytoceuticals

Why This is Necessary

Health Canada has recognized the increase in burden of preventable chronic diseases, over the past few years, and feels as though it is time for them to make some serious interventions. These diseases include obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. The health costs associated with these diseases are ever increasing, and putting substantial stress on the health care industry. Since 2016, some key commitments by Health Canada have been accomplished. They continue to strive to keep improving upon these and creating new goals, in order to further combat preventable health diseases.

Banning of Industrially Produced Trans Fats

In April of 2017, a consultation period was held by Health Canada, based on a proposal to ban the use of partially hydrogenated oils (PHO) in foods. They received a total of 30 comments during this period and the majority of the respondents supported Health Canada’s proposal to ban the use of these industrial trans fats. Therefore, Health Canada has decided to move forward with the proposal and will impose the ban as of September of 2018. By banning the use of these industrial trans fats they hope to see a vast improvement in the quality of processed foods.

Reduction of Sodium

Beginning in 2012, Health Canada asked the industry to voluntarily meet sodium reduction targets in processed foods by 2016. Their reason behind this is they found over 80% of Canadians consume too much sodium, on a daily basis. Overall, this initiative seemed to lack the results that Health Canada was aiming for. They found only 14% of processed foods met their goal, while 86% of the foods fell short. Also, they found that those food products that met the target, were not significant contributors of sodium in the Canadian diet, in the first place.

Therefore, Health Canada decided that this voluntary approach did not work on its own and new strategies should be implemented in order to reach these goals. In September of 2017, Health Canada met with restaurants and food-service sectors in order to enact a plan for them to reduce sodium levels in their food as well. Health Canada also believes that the new proposed front of package labelling will lead to sodium reduction in foods. They believe that by increasing consumer awareness about foods which are high in sodium, it will lead to a push for companies to start reformulating their products, with lower levels of sodium. More information about the changes to the front of package labelling can be found in our “Proposed Front of Package Labelling Changes” article.

Moving Forward

It was clear, at the 2018 CHFA West Conference, that Health Canada is making a strong push to combat the increasing amounts of preventable chronic diseases caused mainly by unhealthy diet. By introducing a total ban on industrial trans fats, they hope to take a big stride in the right direction. Also, Health Canada is continuing to put stress on producers of packaged foods to decrease sodium levels in their foods and they hope to expand this initiative into restaurants and food sectors. They anticipate that the new proposed front of package labelling, will lead to an increase in consumer concern about high sodium levels. This, in turn, will drive producers to reformulate their products with lower levels of sodium.