Health Canada released a discussion paper on November 30, 2007 entitled "Managing Health Claims for Foods in Canada - Discussion Paper, 2007" for the purpose of examining possible changes to the current framework for managing health claims on foods. The discussion paper notes that while consumers generally tend to view health claims as similarly credible, there are significant differences in regulatory requirements between rigorous risk reduction claims ("A healthy diet with adequate calcium and vitamin D, and regular physical activity, help to achieve strong bones and may reduce the risk of osteoporosis") and maintenance claims ("Vitamin A aids in the maintenance of night vision"). Current guidelines are found in the 2003 Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising.

The purpose of the discussion paper is to respond to the increasing interest in the health value of foods, and for more efficient and transparent processes for the approval of health claims. Similar reviews are being conducted in the European Union, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S.

Issues raised in the discussion paper include :

  • Efficiency and openness of the assessment process
  • The need for international standardization
  • Requisite standards for scientific substantiation of claims
  • Interphase between foods and natural health products
  • Permissible health claims and how these should be delivered
  • Improving consumer understanding of health claims

For more information, please see:

Please note comments are due by February 29, 2008.