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Home > Learn More about Making Healthy Lifestyle Choices > Decoding the Nutrition Facts Table

Decoding the Nutrition Facts Table

Nutrition FactsThe breakfast cereal industry in Canada was one of the first to recognize the importance and value of nutrition labelling and the members of BCC have long provided nutrition information to their consumers. Today’s Nutrition Facts table on food labels is an important source of information for Canadians to use when making their food choices.

Since December 12, 2007, nutrition labelling became mandatory and all companies selling pre-packaged food in Canada have been required to display a Nutrition Facts table on their food labels. This new Nutrition Facts table has a standardized format and includes the mandatory listing of calories and 13 core nutrients.

Nutrition FactsConsistent nutrition labelling on food products helps Canadians to make informed decisions about the foods they choose to eat. Knowing how to read the new label is one of the first steps in helping you make healthier choices for you and your family. Here are some pointers:

  1. Serving Size: The serving size is in both household measures (e.g., cups) and in grams (g), or millilitres (mL). All nutrition information on the label relates to the labelled serving size.
  2. Calories: This value is the total number of calories in one serving of a food.
  3. Amount: Measured in grams (g) or milligrams (mg), this amount shows how much of each nutrient is in a serving of a food.
  4. Nutrients: The old voluntary label required listing calories and three nutrients (carbohydrate, fat and protein). The new label now lists calories and 13 nutrients: fat; saturated plus trans fat; cholesterol; sodium; carbohydrate; fibre; sugars; protein; vitamins A and C; calcium; and iron.
  5. % Daily Value: This number gives an idea of a fooods. It also allows Canadians to make food choices based on whether they want more or less of a specific nutrient.

Depending on your nutrition and health goals, various parts of the food label will be particularly useful. Here are a few ways you can use the information to help you make smart food choices:

Nutrient Content Claims and Health Claims are not part of the Nutrition Facts table, but can be used in conjunction with the nutrition information to help Canadians make food choices. For example, food manufacturers are permitted to make claims that describe the level of a nutrient in a food such as "high fibre" or "low fat." Five regulated diet-related health claims are also allowed in Canada:

  1. Sodium and potassium and blood pressure
  2. Calcium and osteoporosis
  3. Saturated and trans fat and heart disease
  4. Vegetables and fruit and some types of cancers
  5. Does not promote tooth decay

For more information, visit Health Canada: Food and Nutrition — Nutrition Labelling.

look at the labelAlso, to help Canadians interpret the nutrition information on food labels and make informed food choices, the food industry through its association with the Food & Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC) is a proud sponsor of Healthy Eating is in Store for You, an educational program developed by the Dietitians of Canada and the Canadian Diabetes Association.

This program provides, free of charge:

To access and use these great resources, you can link directly to the program at healthyeatingisinstore.ca.