Centre for Science in the Public Interest

For the Record

For Immediate Release:
July 26, 1999

For more information:
Bill Jeffery

   Consumer Group Launches Ad Campaign for Mandatory Nutrition Labelling

OTTAWA (July 26, 1999) — The Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) launched an advertising campaign today urging Canadians to “choose a healthier diet.” The ads, which appear in today’s Ottawa Citizen and tomorrow’s Globe and Mail, are part of CSPI’s campaign for mandatory nutrition labelling in Canada.

     The newspaper ads feature “Two Fast Ways to Improve Your Health” with tips for eating a healthier diet and a mail-in coupon for readers to send to the Minister of Health urging him to legislate mandatory nutrition labelling.

     “Labels on American brand-name foods (and Canadian foods when exported to the U.S.) that reveal full nutrition content to U.S. consumers are nowhere to be found on foods sold in Canada,” said Bill Jeffery, L.LB., CSPI’s Ottawa-based Public Policy Analyst. “How can Canadians eat a healthful diet when such vital information as calories, saturated fat, sodium, dietary fibre, added sugars, key vitamins, and other nutrients are not listed on the package? We’re encouraging consumers to write or call Health Minister Allan Rock and their local M.P.s to urge them to support full nutrition information on all foods, from cookies to ground beef.”

     “A healthy, balanced diet can reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and other health problems,” said Michael F. Jacobson, Ph.D., Executive Director of CSPI. “Americans have the advantage of monitoring their diet by reading labels when they purchase food, even foods imported from Canada. Canadians don’t have access to that same nutrition information.”

     The ads recommend five key steps for choosing a healthier diet:

  • Eat less fatty ground beef, sausage, cheese, homogenized milk, and french fries.
  • Eat more whole wheat bread, oatmeal, and whole-grain cereals.
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
  • Cut back on sugar in soft drinks and other foods.
  • Cut back on sodium (mostly from salt in processed foods).

     Presently, nutrition labelling is voluntary in Canada. Manufacturers do not have to disclose nutrition information unless a product makes a nutrition claim. If a claim is made, Health Canada requires manufacturers to disclose only limited information on one or more selected nutrients. For instance, in Canada, the label on V-8 Vegetable Cocktail does not disclose that a one cup serving has about 730 mg of sodium, but does provide other nutrition information. V-8 sold in the U.S. provides full nutrition information, including the fact that the 620 mg of sodium in a cup represents about a quarter of the maximum daily recommended intake.

     CSPI’s ad campaign urges consumers to contact Health Minister Rock (at Room 441-S, Centre Block, House of Commons, Ottawa, K1A-0A6) or their local Members of Parliament to urge them to require full nutrition labelling on all foods.

CSPI Canada