Canada's new front of food package warning labels for saturated fat, added sugars, and sodium

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How do you feel about a warning symbol on the front of packaged foods alerting you to higher amounts of nutrients linked to chronic disease risk? In the US, we often see label statements and claims on the front of packages as to what “positive” nutrient a food might contain (fiber, omega-3, vitamin D, etc.) or what a food might not contain (gluten, GMOs, added sugars, etc.) – but in terms of amounts consumers must pick up a product and take a look (and try to decipher) at the Nutrition Facts Panel. Earlier this month, Canada instituted new food policy that requires packaged foods that contain more than 15% of the Daily Value for saturated fat, added sugars, and sodium to include a standardized warning on the front of the package. I admit, while I applaud the intent as we do overconsume these chronic disease promoting constituents, I am mixed about fostering a “good” “bad” approach to food choice – and how some consumers and manufacturers alike will respond. I often joke that dietitians often begin addressing questions with “it depends….”. Individual food choice must be viewed in context with the rest of the overall diet. Not sure if a warning label will be coming to a food package near you in the future. Would love to hear your perspective.  


About the Author
Jamie Pope, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Assistant Professor of Practice in Medicine, Health and Society at Vanderbilt University, has worked in the areas of obesity research, health promotion, heart disease prevention, and since 2000 teaching introductory nutrition. Beyond the classroom, she adapted portions of her nutrition courses to produce a Massive Open Online Course attracting more than 175,000 participants from around the world. This experience earned Jamie an Innovation in Teaching award from the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. She is the co-author of the textbook entitled Nutrition for a Changing World. Now in its second edition, the text is in use in over 140 universities across the U.S. and the recipient of a 2020 Textbook Excellence Award. Most recently she developed and produced an audio course for (Nutrition 101: Understanding the Science and Practice of Eating Well) that is also featured on platforms like Apple Books and Audible. Jamie holds a Master’s of Science degree in Nutrition and post graduate work in Health Psychology. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She has authored or contributed to numerous scientific and popular press publications. Jamie also held several corporate positions, serving as nutrition consultant and media representative.