Health Claims on Food Labels

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Health Claims on Food Labels

Topic Overview

Food makers can make health claims about certain nutrients, such as calcium, fibre, and fat, that are found naturally in foods. The health claims must be balanced and based on current, reliable scientific studies and must be approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Health claims may be statements like "This food is a good source of calcium. Adequate intake of calcium may reduce the risk of osteoporosis," or "Development of cancer depends on many factors. A diet low in total fat may reduce the risk of some cancers."

But just because a food label has a health claim does not mean that the food is healthy for you. For example, a food that is labelled as "a good source of calcium" may still be high in fat, salt, or sugar.

Terms you can trust

Terms on labels are legally defined for food companies. Phrases such as "low-fat," "low-sodium," "light" or "lite," "free" (as in "fat-free"), and "organic" are now standardized for all foods. If a food uses one of these terms, you can trust that it meets the criteria for that term.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Last Revised March 29, 2011

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.