Leading Canadian consumer organizations are calling on the federal government to reduce food fraud and help consumers make healthy food choices by improving how packaged food is labelled.
The six organizations – Anaphylaxis Canada, My Sustainable Canada, Consumers Council of Canada, Option consommateurs, Heart and Stroke Foundation, and Union des consommateurs – today released a report highlighting eight recommendations for government. The groups spent 18 months working together as part of a Consumers Council of Canada multi-stakeholder consultation.
“The message is very clear to the federal government that consumers need and want better packaged food labelling so they can more easily buy healthy foods and avoid food fraud,” said Aubrey Leblanc, president of the Council.
The report is in response to the federal government’s current review of food labelling regulation.
In its joint statement, the panel highlighted eight areas the federal government should improve, including:
- Establish food label regulations that require the quantity or proportion of any highlighted ingredient be stated accurately within the ingredients label in descending proportion;
- Ensure laws and ensuing regulation of geographic origin of food claims are thorough enough to allow consumers to determine, with reasonable certainty, the place of origin of the majority of the food ingredients;
- Update legislation and regulations surrounding the Nutritional Facts Table (NFT) to reflect current research regarding nutrition, and to improve consumer comprehension and usability;
- Work closely with consumer organizations and business to establish a front of package (FOP) label scheme in order to reduce consumer confusion resulting from multiple FOP programs;
- Mandate unit pricing in order to standardize and maximize its impact;
- Ensure foods that have been irradiated, produced using nano-technology or contain genetically modified organisms are appropriately labelled;
- Create a legislative framework that allows for more timely updating of label regulations to meet the ongoing and rapid evolution of food production and labelling;
- Undertake a comprehensive and on-going consumer education program to ensure Canadians are informed food consumers.
“While consumers are responsible for trying to be informed shoppers, they require food information that is accessible, easy to understand and truthful,” said Mr. Leblanc.