In many parts of the world, food companies, consumers, and governments are re-examining the provision of nutrition information on food labels. It is important that the nutrition information provided be appropriate and understandable to the consumer and that it impact food-choice behaviors. Potentially, food labeling represents a valuable tool to help consumers make informed decisions about their diet and lifestyle. Food information organizations worldwide have been following consumer trends in the use of this information as well as consumer attitudes about food, nutrition, and health. This paper summarizes a workshop that examined consumer attitudes gathered regionally with the aim of establishing commonalities and differences.
Concern has been raised that the coexistence of multiple front-of-pack (FOP) nutrition rating systems in a marketplace may mislead consumers into believing that a specific food with a FOP is 'healthier' than foods without the symbol. Eleven summary indicator FOP systems are in use in Canada, including one non-profit developed system, the Heart and Stroke Foundation's Health Check™, and ten manufacturer-developed systems, like Kraft's Sensible Solutions™. This study evaluated FOP's potential to mislead consumers by comparing the number of products qualifying to carry a given FOP symbol to the number of products that actually carry the symbol.
The nutritional criteria for the Health Check™ and the Sensible Solutions™ systems were applied to a 2010-2011 Canadian national database of packaged food products. The proportion of foods qualifying for a given FOP system was compared to the proportion carrying the symbol using McNemar's test.
Criteria were available to categorize 7503 and 3009 of the 10,487 foods in the database under Health Check™ and Sensible Solutions™, respectively. Overall 45% of the foods belonging to a Health Check™ category qualified for Health Check's™ symbol, while only 7.5% of the foods carried the symbol. Up to 79.1% of the foods belonging to a Sensible Solutions™, category qualified for Sensible Solutions's™ symbol while only 4.1% of the foods carried the symbol. The level of agreement between products qualifying for and carrying FOP systems was poor to moderate in the majority of food categories for both systems. More than 75% of the products in 24 of the 85 Health Check™ subcategories and 9 of 11 Sensible Solution™ categories/subcategories qualified for their respective symbols based on their nutritional composition.
FOP systems as they are currently applied are not, in most instances, a useful guide to identifying healthier food products in the supermarket as many more products qualify for these systems than the number of products actually displaying these symbols on FOP, and the level of agreement between qualifying and carrying products is poor to moderate. The adoption of a single, standardized FOP system would assure consumers that all products meeting certain nutritional standards are designated by the symbol.
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A growing body of evidence suggests that a majority of people with celiac disease and on a gluten-free diet can safely consume pure oats in moderate amounts; however, previous studies have indicated that the commercial oat supply in other countries, and in Canada to some extent, is contaminated with other grains. This study has confirmed that the commercial oat supply in Canada is heavily contaminated with gluten from other grains. Approximately 88% of the oat samples (n = 133) were contaminated above 20 mg kg(-1) and there were no differences between the oat types tested. Only one gluten-free variety of oats was analysed and it consistently provided negative results in all analyses. It is difficult to determine where the contamination originates, but there are possibilities for cross-contamination in the field, in the transport of the grain, in the storage of the grain, and in the milling and packaging facilities. It is clear from this study that only those products that have been certified 'pure' oats would be appropriate for a gluten-free diet.
Cites: N Engl J Med. 2002 Jan 17;346(3):180-811796853
Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto; Keenan Research Centre of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael's Hospital; and Glycemic Index Laboratories, Inc., Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Recently Health Canada (HC) published its opinion that including glycemic index (GI) values on food labels would be misleading and not add value to nutrition labeling and dietary guidelines to help consumers make healthier food choices. Important areas of concern were identified by HC, but the discussion of them is scientifically invalid. HC concluded that GI has poor precision for labeling purposes based on incorrect application of the standard deviation. In fact, GI methodology is precise enough to distinguish, with high probability, low-GI (GI = 55) from high-GI (GI = 70) foods and to pass the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Nutrition Compliance Test procedure. HC rightly concluded that GI does not respond to portion size, whereas glycemic response does, but no valid evidence was provided to support the assertion that a lower-GI food could have a higher glycemic response. HC's focus on glycemic response could promote a low-carbohydrate diet inconsistent with nutrition recommendations. HC correctly concluded that GI is unresponsive to the replacement of available- with unavailable-carbohydrate but this is irrelevant to GI labeling. HC is rightly concerned about promoting unhealthy low-GI foods; however, this could be avoided by prohibiting GI labeling on such foods. Therefore, HC has provided neither a helpful nor scientifically valid evaluation of GI for labeling purposes but has contributed to the wealth of misinformation about GI in the literature. Currently, Canadian consumers only have access to unregulated and misleading information about GI; well-crafted guidelines for GI labeling would provide consumers accurate information about GI and help them make healthier food choices.
OBJECTIVE We sought to evaluate the impact of the gluten-free diet on the 5,240 members of the Canadian Celiac Association (CCA). Data are presented on 2,681 adults (>or=16 years) with biopsy-proven celiac disease (CD).
A mail-out survey was used. Quality of life was evaluated using the 'SF12', and celiac-specific questions.
Mean age was 56 years, mean age at diagnosis was 45 years, and 75% were female. The 'SF12' summary scores were similar to normative Canadian data, but were significantly lower for females and newly diagnosed patients. Respondents reported: following a gluten-free (GF) diet (90%), improvement on the diet (83%), and difficulties following the diet (44%), which included: determining if foods were GF (85%), finding GF foods in stores (83%), avoiding restaurants (79%), and avoiding travel (38%). Most common reactions to consumed gluten (among 73%) included pain, diarrhea, bloating, fatigue, nausea, and headache. Excellent information on CD and its treatment was provided by the CCA (64%), gastroenterologists (28%), dietitians (26%) and family doctor (12%).
Quality of life in those with CD could be increased with early diagnosis, increased availability of gluten-free foods, improved food labelling, and better dietary instruction. Education of physicians and dietitians about CD and its treatment is essential.
To estimate the impact of choosing food products labelled either as low or high in salt on salt intake in the Finnish adult population.
The National FINDIET 2002 survey with 48-hour recalls from 2007 subjects aged 25-64 years. Sodium intake was calculated based on the Fineli food composition database including the sodium content of natural and processed foods as well as the salt content of recipes. The distribution of salt intake was calculated in different ways: the present situation; assuming that all breads, cheeses, processed meat and fish, breakfast cereals and fat spreads consumed would be either 'lightly salted' or 'heavily salted' based on the current labelling practice; and, in addition, assuming that all foods would be prepared with 50% less or more salt.
Excluding underreporters, the mean salt intake would be reduced by 1.8 g in men and by 1.0 g in women if the entire population were to choose lightly salted products and further by 2.5 and 1.8 g, respectively, if also salt used in cooking were halved. Choosing heavily salted products would increase salt intake by 2.1 g in men and by 1.4 g in women. In the worst scenarios, salt intake would be further increased by 2.3 g in men and by 1.6 g in women.
These calculations show that the potential impact of labelling and giving consumers the possibility to choose products with less salt is of public health importance. In addition, strategies to reduce the salt content of all food groups are needed.
Total mercury was analysed in 188 samples of predatory fish purchased at the retail level in Canada in 2005. The average concentrations (ng g(-1), range) were: sea bass 329 (38-1367), red snapper 148 (36-431), orange roughy 543 (279-974), fresh water trout 55 (20-430), grouper 360 (8-1060), black cod 284 (71-651), Arctic char 37 (28-54), king fish 440 (42-923), tilefish 601 (79-1164) and marlin 854 (125-2346). The Canadian standard for maximum total mercury allowed in the edible portions of fish sold at the retail level is 1000 ng g(-1) for shark, swordfish, marlin, orange roughy, escolar and both fresh and frozen tuna. The standard is 500 ng g(-1) for all other types of fish. In this study, despite the small number of samples of each species, the 1000 ng g(-1) maximum was exceeded in five samples of marlin (28%). The 500 ng g(-1) maximum was exceeded by six samples of sea bass (20%), four of tilefish (50%), five of grouper (24%), six of king fish (40%) and one of black cod (13%).