Nutrition Facts table formats
Considerations for selecting an appropriate Nutrition Facts table
Although the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) require the declaration of a Nutrition Facts table (NFt) on most prepackaged products, the information may be presented in a variety of different formats. Industry has considerable flexibility in presentation, and may choose from several different format "families". Within each format family, further choices of presentation style are available. For example, manufacturers may opt for separate French and English tables (including a narrow variation in the case of the Standard Format) or choose to use a single bilingual table.
The specific format chosen and the size of Nutrition Facts table are based on a combination of mandatory and voluntary considerations.
1st consideration: Who will buy the product
There are major differences in the nutrition labelling requirements depending upon who is consuming or buying the product. Basically, for the purposes of nutrition labelling there are three classes of foods:
- prepackaged foods for the consumer (including foods for infants six months of age or older but less than one year of age) and foods that will be repackaged for retail
- prepackaged foods for use in manufacturing other foods; and
- ready-to-serve multiple-serving prepackaged products served in a commercial or industrial enterprise or an institution.
The two last classes of foods have specific requirements associated with them. The appropriate sections provide further information.
2nd consideration: On what basis will the information be presented
In the majority of cases, nutrition information is presented on the basis of a serving of food as sold. However, nutrition information for specific forms of coffee (whole or ground beans and pods) and tea (dry loose leaves, bags and pods) must be provided in the Nutrition Facts table on an "as consumed" basis, rather than on an "as sold" basis. These forms of coffee and tea are not consumed in their "as sold" form. They are percolated, brewed, infused or steeped in water and the original food (grounds or leaves) is then discarded and only the liquid is consumed. Issues related to serving size are discussed in the Information within the Nutrition Facts table section.
However, in certain circumstances, the manufacturer is provided with other presentation options. For example, nutrition information may be provided for a food in more than one amount (2 cookies, 1 cookie), or for individual foods in a multi-pack (crackers and cheese). As well, information for the food as sold (such as a cold cereal) may differ from information about the food as prepared (cereal with milk).
Sections B.01.401(6), B.01.401(6.1), B.01.403(5) and B.01.406 of the FDR outline the conditions under which the various options for the presentation of nutrition information may be used. In some cases the manner of presenting information is mandatory, while in other cases it is at the discretion of the manufacturer.
The manner of presenting nutrition information directly affects the choice of Nutrition Facts table format.
3rd consideration: What format is required
The steps involved in choosing an NFt format are set out in the section Steps for choosing a Nutrition Facts table.
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