How RCC helped develop Health Canada's new healthy eating label - Retail Council of Canada
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How RCC helped develop Health Canada’s new healthy eating label

August 4, 2022

Last month, Health Canada revealed a new front-of-pack food labeling system that features a magnifying glass icon directing customers to saturated fats, sugars, and sodium totals in food. The Front-of-Package Nutrition Labelling regulations, along with draft Guidance materials for industry, provide details on when and how the new Nutrition Symbol will need to be displayed. A summary of the regulations, as well as links to the Guidance and technical documents are available on Health Canada’s website.

RCC was an active participant in consultations on the regulations, and was responsible for the development of the magnifying glass symbol which will be used, encouraging consumers to refer to the Nutrition Facts Table for more information, rather than the more alarmist symbols which had been proposed. In this Q&A, RCC’s Jason McLinton and Alison Baxter explain their involvement in the project.

Question: How was RCC so critical in this new label?

Answer: Back in 2016, the government announced they were going to be introducing new front-of-package nutrition labels. The initial proposals were very alarming: stop signs and chemical hazard-style symbols. They would have been confusing for consumers and implied that everyday foods on retail shelves weren’t safe to consume. RCC advocated strongly these hazard-style symbols were unduly alarming, and we offered up a solution that we felt the government could accept. Knowing we wanted to shift the symbols from a warning symbol to an educational one, we worked with members to develop the magnifying glass symbol.

The idea behind the symbol is that we wanted to encourage Canadians to take a closer look at the Nutrition Facts table on those products. Once we had our proposal developed, we worked to gain support from other partners and eventually the government

i: Initial Health Canada label mock ups, ii: RCC’s recommendations, iii: Revealed Health Canada label

Q: What’s next for retailers on this subject?

A: The new regulations will need to be followed for any product produced after January 2026. We’re currently working with members and officials to develop alternative solutions for grocery scale labels and to address the implementation timelines. It will also be really important to have a collaborative, comprehensive education program for consumers – so that they understand what the new symbols mean and how to use them when making food choices.

Q: What does this label solution say about RCC’s work for members?

A: We’re really proud that working with our members, government and other partners, we got it to a place that’s a lot better for both retailers and Canadian consumers. We think the front-of-pack involvement illustrates how our solutions-oriented and collaborative approach gets results for our members.

For questions or more information contact

Jason McLinton
Vice-President, Grocery Division and Regulatory Affairs
613- 656-7903

For questions or more information contact

Alison Baxter
Senior Director, Nutrition and Social Responsibility at RCC