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Label Management
September 29, 2022
February 12, 2024

Everything You Need to Know About Canada’s New Front of the Package Labeling Regulations

Mrignayni Pandey

Everything You Need to Know About Canada’s New Front of the Package Labeling Regulations

September 29, 2022
February 12, 2024
Mrignayni Pandey


Canada has unveiled a new front-of-package nutrition label to shed light on ingredients that impact the health of Canadians. 

Food manufacturers should now have a nutrition sign with a magnifying glass and wording highlighting items high in saturated fat, sugar, and/or sodium. 

According to Canada’s health ministry, manufacturers have until Jan. 1, 2026, to alter their labels to comply with the new standard. But you may start seeing Front of the Package Labeling (FOP) earlier. 

In this article, we’ll discover more about Canada’s FOP labeling and how you can stay on top of similar regulatory changes to bring your products to market faster and gain an edge over your competitors. Here’s what’s covered in the article:

FOP Labeling consumer research and consultation

Canada conducted research through a health literacy lens to ensure that everyone, including those who have difficulty understanding and interpreting nutrition label information, can successfully use labeling to make healthier food choices and identify foods high in nutrients. Here’s some research they conducted:

  • Focus group testing across Canada in 2016 gathered the first consumer response on front-of-package symbols. This public opinion research evaluated consumer preferences on front-of-package labeling strategy, symbol size, and symbol location to lay down a system that is easy to detect and understand.

  • Health Canada performed an online study to examine front-of-package labeling regulation specifications that would best facilitate consumer awareness, knowledge, appraisal, and usage.

    The organization specified symbol size, placement, Health Canada attribution, and nutrition information proximity. Consumers then saw products with proposed front-package labeling or the alternative designs and completed timed shopping tasks. The organization used the key findings from this study to come up with an effective FOP label.

  • Health Canada also conducted grocery store studies. This study examined the proposed front-of-package nutrition labeling to assist consumers in reducing saturated fat, carbohydrates, and sodium.

    Consumers were offered products with no front-of-package labeling or one of four symbols and then asked to perform shopping activities. This study compared four front-of-package nutrition symbol designs to find which one was the most effective. 
Image source: FOP Infographic

Why an FOP labeling symbol 

8 in 10 Canadians agree nutrition is important, yet 60% of food they eat is pre-processed and packaged and contains high amounts of:

  • Sodium: This mineral is found in food and table salt. It offers great health benefits like maintaining the balance of your body’s fluids, controlling your blood pressure, and keeping your muscles and nerves in working order. But, too much sodium can result in high blood pressure, significantly increasing the risk of developing heart disease and stroke. Since sodium is a preservative, most pre-processed and packaged foods contain it in high amounts. 
  • Sugars: These are a type of carbohydrate that provides the body with energy. They’re naturally found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products and are used to add texture, taste, and color (browning) to food. About 2/3 of store-bought items include sugar. And consuming too much of it can lead to tooth decay, being overweight, cardiovascular disease, and even some form of cancer
  • Saturated fat: Fat is an important nutrient that provides energy to your body and helps it absorb essential vitamins like A, D, E, and K. There are three kinds of fats, namely, trans saturated and unsaturated. Most packaged food contains saturated and trans fats, which increase the risk of heart disease in the nation. 

In short, a diet high in fat, sugar, and sodium causes obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, which is why the Canadian government wants to prompt people to eat healthy. 

Foods that must have an FOP labeling symbol 

The front-of-package nutrition symbol is required for prepackaged foods that meet or exceed the specified amounts of sodium, carbohydrates, or saturated fat.

But some items are exempt from this regulation, according to the Health of Canada , and we’ve listed them below:

  • Items that are exempt due to technical considerations:
  • Packaged individual portions that are solely meant to be provided with meals or snacks by a restaurant or other commercial establishment (for example, individually portioned crackers served with soup or creamers served with a cup of coffee).
  • Milk and cream sold in reusable glass containers.
  • Foods packaged in tiny amounts.
  • Whole cuts of raw meat, poultry, and fish, and food without a nutrition data label. 
  • Dairy products like plain milk, plain yogurt, and cheese which are important sources of calcium and necessary to promote bone health and lower the risk of osteoporosis. 
  • Table foods that have a positive impact on health— fruits and vegetables without added sodium, sugars, or saturated fat.
  • Raw, single-ingredient ground meats and poultry to avoid conveying the idea that they are nutritionally inferior to entire cuts without a nutrition symbol.
  • Foods used for the same purposes as butter, sugar, or salt, such as - honey, citrus salt, maple sugar, and dietary fats.

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What the FOP labeling should look like

The nutrition symbol on the front of the packaging is black and white. It features a magnifying glass and shows the amount of sodium, sugar, saturated fat, or any combination of these that the food contains. The words "Health Canada / Santé Canada" must be written at the base of the sign.

Image source: Canadian Health Service

How should the nutrition label appear on the front of the packaging?

Size: The symbol’s size is determined by the size of the package. This ensures that the symbol is easy to view on packages of all sizes

Location: For the majority of package forms, the nutrition symbol will be located in the upper part of the label. If the package label is rectangular or wider than it’s tall, it should be visible on the right half of the label.

Language: The FOP label must appear in both French and English. You can add them as separate symbols or add both languages to the same symbol. 

Image source: Canadian Health Service

6 ways stay ahead of regulations with Artwork Flow

Changes in regulation are hard to deal with as you’ve got to add new information to the label or reprint it according to the requirements. 

Plus, there’s no room for delay, so you’ve got to act quickly and get the products out with reprinted labels as soon as possible. 

Luckily, Artwork Flow has you covered. It’s an artwork label management and creative collaboration software specifically designed for regulated industries. Here are some of its best features:

  1. Artwork library: Store all your brand assets in one place, so you don’t have to spend hours searching for the right one. 
  2. Workflows: Split the goal — adding FOP labeling as quickly as possible— into stages and assign tasks to each team member to complete it. Inject accountability into the whole process to ensure there’s no confusion
  3. Checklists: Artwork Flow allows you to create checklists for each task so you can reduce the number of revisions. 
  4. Annotations: Collate feedback from multiple teams into a single place so designers can keep track of them easily. 
  5. Proofing tools: Check for brand consistency, typography and measurement errors with Artwork Flow’s proofing tools
  6. Compliance tools: Artwork Flow’s AI-based tool automatically analyzes your label and points out compliance errors to help you avoid label rejections and revenue loss.  

In short, Artwork Flow helps you avoid penalties and recalls while speeding up your artwork label creation and launch. And to learn how we can help your brand, fill in the form for a free demo. 

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