Broader use of Health Claims
Health claims are a statement or representation (through graphics, brand name, trade name) on a food that states, suggests, or implies that a relationship exists between a food or a component of that food and reducing the risk to health or a certain disease. In 2003, the government amended the Food and Drug Regulations to permit the following five generic disease reduction claims:
- A healthy diet low in sodium and high in potassium and reduced risk of high blood pressure
- A healthy diet with adequate calcium and vitamin D and reduced risk of osteoporosis
- A healthy diet low in saturated and trans fat and reduced risk of heart disease
- A healthy diet rich in vegetables and fruit and reduced risk of some types of cancers
However, in Canada, if a food has been approved to carry one of the five permitted disease risk reduction claims and certain function claims that are made about restoring, correcting or modifying body functions, it falls under the definition of a drug and is subject to the drug regulations under Food and Drug Regulations.
The Issue: The Food & Drugs Act contains a section that prohibits claims on labels and/or in advertising on foods that refer to 40 serious disease conditions, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Position: Manufacturers would like the ability to communicate these health benefits to consumers by adding health claims to packaging, allowing consumers to make informed purchasing decisions. Studies confirm Canadian consumers are looking for foods with health benefits. This information could be effectively used and communicated by many credible groups involved in health promotion to help Canadians achieve their wellness and healthy living goals.