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. A healthy diet with adequate calcium and vitamin D may reduce the risk of osteoporosis," or "Development of cancer depends on many factors. A healthy diet rich in vegetables and fruit may reduce the risk of some types of 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.
Calorie-free: Less than 5 calories
Low-calorie: Less than 40 calories
Fat-free: Less than ½ gram of fat
Lean: Meat, poultry, or seafood that has not been ground and contains 10% or less fat
Extra lean: Meat, poultry, or seafood that has not been ground and contains 7.5% or less fat
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerRhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator Colleen O'Connor, PhD, RD - Registered Dietitian