To be on top of nutrition news in Canada, it’s important to see what the government is up to. With staff including dietitians, researchers, scientists and other scholars, government organizations such as Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are constantly monitoring our food supply and changing regulations around packaging, labelling, ingredients and other food-related issues. Here are a few recent updates.
A new definition of fibre
As of May 31, 2012, the term “fibre“ is no longer limited to soluble and insoluble forms; it now includes novel fibres such as oligosaccharides and inulin.From Health Canada:
Dietary fibre consists of carbohydrates with a degree of polymerization of three or more that naturally occur in foods of plant origin and that are not digested and absorbed by the small intestine; and accepted novel fibres.
In contrast to Health Canada’s previous position on novel fibre (Health Canada, 1988), fine grinding is no longer a factor in determining whether a product is a fibre source. This allows novel fibre and fibre powders to now be considered “fibre“, and means that ingredients like powdered inulin will count towards the total fibre content on the Nutrition Facts table.
Novel fibres are synthetically produced to contain fibre that’s not digested and absorbed by the small intestine. They are obtained from natural sources, such as chicory. Accepted novel fibres have at least one physiological effect demonstrated by generally accepted scientific evidence. In the case of inulin, it works as a prebiotic.
Safe Food for Canadians
On June 7, 2012, the Harper Government introduced the Safe Food for Canadians Act, which is said to help strengthen the Government’s ability to protect Canadian families from potentially unsafe food. The act will help modernize the Canadian food safety system by ensuring a more consistent inspection of food commodities, implementing tougher penalties for unsafe food activities, strengthening food traceability, and prohibiting importation of unsafe foods.
The Act will consolidate the Fish Inspection Act, the Canada Agricultural Products Act, the Meat Inspection Act, and the food provisions of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act. It will help align inspection and enforcement powers across all food commodities, thus improving the safety of food as well as reducing overlap.
Sodium Guidelines Finally Released
June 2012 also marked the release of the long awaited Guidance for the Food Industry on Reducing Sodium in Processed Foods. This 63-page document (available here) provides guidance to the food industry for lowering the sodium levels in processed foods.
The document explains that sodium reduction is a shared responsibility among the food industry, government and consumers, and clarifies that the sodium guidance document is not going to be enforced. Sodium reduction is only a voluntary program for companies wishing to take part.
The document includes the proposed minimum and maximum sodium levels for an array of foods and beverages. Food companies who choose to follow the guidelines will help the government meet its goal of reducing the average daily sodium intake to 2300 mg by 2016.
Many food companies have already initiated sodium reduction in processed and packaged food products. Maple Leaf Foods is fully committed to meeting the new guidelines for those products that fall outside of the sodium “maximum” as outlined in the guidance document. In fact, Maple Leaf’s Senior Director of Product Development & Innovation, Colin Farnum, was an active member of Health Canada’s original Sodium Working Group.
At Maple Leaf Foodservice, we began reducing sodium levels to meet the needs of the healthcare market long before the guidelines were published. Most recently, we reduced the sodium levels on these products:
- Pulled Pork – reduced by 58%
- Chicken & Beef 125g Pot Pies – reduced by 40%
- Thick Carved Pot Roast in Gravy – reduced by 32%
- Fully Cooked Premium Chicken Strips – reduced by 25%
Maple Leaf has been able to reformulate all of these products so they taste even better with less sodium! Plus, all future Maple Leaf Foods products will meet the new sodium guidelines.
In July 2012, we are re-launching our popular 125g Tourtiere Pie with 31% less sodium. Please refer to the Chef’s Picks section to learn more about our latest new sodium-reduced products!