Food labels in Canada have required nutrition panels for decades. For brand owners, there are a variety of ways to build a compliant and accurate nutrition panel.
The CFIA accepts both chemical analysis from a certified lab or a mathematical calculation using available data for all ingredients.
For some products lab analysis is the best approach, especially if a product has significant moisture loss or other changes during processing (like fermented products). In these cases a calculation based on the recipe may not be accurate. Lab analysis is a good option for all products but the cost is high and testing needs to be done with every recipe update or new item.
Most products are candidates for calculated nutrition panels. There are many benefits of this approach:
Much lower cost compared to lab analysis
Brand owners can do this themselves, or pay a food development centre
Can create multiple versions of one recipe to help with product development
Based on the recipe and not impacted by reasonable finished product variation like there could be with lab analysis approach
There are online nutrition panel generation tools to help
Best practice is to purchase ingredients directly from manufacturer who provides accurate nutrition data in the unrounded format
The Canadian Nutrient File can be used for commodities like fruit, veg, grains etc. https://food-nutrition.canada.ca/cnf-fce/index-eng.jsp
Ensure data is in proper units (typically grams). A nutrition panel serving size must be the same units as the net content (grams or mL), convert between mL and grams appropriately.
Know the reference amount for product category and generate a nutrition panel based on the right serving size https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/technical-documents-labelling-requirements/table-reference-amounts-food.html
Below are some online nutrition calculation programs that are commonly used:
Recipal.com (select the Canadian format, check out the cost of goods, pricing and inventory control tools)
Nutritionistpro.com (select the Canadian format)
Labelify.ca (Canadian only)
Esha.com (excellent tool but higher price than others)
The Food and Drug Regulations include how a nutrition panel should be used on a food label. The CFIA labelling tool can help: https://inspection.canada.ca/food-label-requirements/labelling/industry/eng/1383607266489/1383607344939
By Marlis Bens, Venturepark Labs Program Manager