Proposed food label changes to serving size

Canada is proposing changes to further regulate serving size on food labels. Learn about these proposed changes and how they can help Canadians make informed food choices for themselves and their families.

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How is serving size currently shown on food labels?

The serving size is at the top of the nutrition facts table. It is listed at the top because the information in the table is based on this amount of food.

Serving size is shown in common household measurements, such as:

  • a number of pieces (for example, per number of crackers)
  • in cups (for example, 1/4 cup)
  • a fraction of the food (for example, 1/4 pizza)

The common household measurement is followed by the metric equivalent in grams (g) or millilitres (mL).

Figure 1. Serving Size

Figure 1
   Serving Size - Text Description

Shown here is a mock-up of the top portion of a Nutrition Facts table.

Left justified at the top of the table is the heading Nutrition Facts and stacked below it is the heading Valeur nutritive. Both are in bold. The next line is Per 1/2 cup open parenthesis 125 mL close parenthesis. The next line is pour 1/2 tasse open parenthesis 125 mL close parenthesis. There is a thin rule below pour 1/2 tasse open parenthesis 125 mL close parenthesis that spans the width of the table. The next line is Calories in bold followed by 80, also in bold. Right justified on the same line is the subheading percent symbol Daily Value in bold. Stacked under this is percent symbol valeur quotidienne also in bold. Percent Daily Value has an asterisk that refers to a footnote at the bottom of the Nutrition Facts table. There is a thick rule under the Calories information that ends after the number 80.  It does not span the width of the table.  The Nutrition Facts table image ends here.

The "Per ½ cup" and "pour ½ tasse" are circled in red. There is a red arrow pointing to this circle with the text "Household measure" outside and to the left of the table. The "125 mL" is circled in red. There is a red arrow pointing to this circle with the text "Metric measure equivalent" outside and to the right of the table.

What are the proposed changes to serving size?

We are proposing changes that will make serving sizes more consistent. They will better reflect the amount that Canadians typically eat in one sitting. Consistent and realistic serving sizes will make it easier for Canadians to compare similar foods. It will also make it easier to know how many calories and nutrients they are eating.

The proposed changes are based on 3 criteria. These will help the food industry make serving sizes more consistent on similar foods. Below are examples of how serving size will appear depending on the food product.

1. Foods that can be measured

For foods that can be measured, the serving size will be shown as a common household measurement, such as:

  • cup
  • teaspoon
  • tablespoon

This will be paired with its metric equivalent in millilitres or grams. Similar products will have the same millilitre or gram amount. These types of food include:

  • milk
  • cream cheese
  • yogurt
  • flour
  • rice

For example, the serving size on large tubs of yogurt will have a reference amount of 175 g. This will make it easier to compare.

Figure 2. Foods that can be measured

Figure 2
   Foods that can be measured - Text Description

Shown here are four images of large tubs of yogurt, each showing a mock-up of the top portion of a Nutrition Facts table.

In the Nutrition Facts tables of the first two yogurt images illustrating the current situation, the serving size of yogurt A is listed as "Per 1/3 cup (100 g)" and the serving size of yogurt B is listed as "Per 1/2 cup (125 g)". A small bowl appears next to yogurt A and a larger bowl appears next to yogurt B. Together, these images show that the serving sizes of yogurts A and B are hard to compare when they are different.

In the Nutrition Facts tables of the second two yogurt images illustrating the situation under the proposed criteria, the serving size of both yogurt A and yogurt B are listed as "Per 3/4 cup (175 g)". The same size bowl appears next to both yogurts A and B. Together, these images show that the serving sizes of yogurts A and B are easier to compare when they are the same.

2. Amounts in pieces

For foods that come in pieces, the serving size will be shown as the number of pieces. It will be paired with its metric equivalent in grams. These types of food include:

  • cookies
  • chips
  • crackers
  • muffins
  • bagels

This will also be the case for foods that are divided before eaten, such as:

  • wheels of cheese
  • frozen pizza
  • cakes
  • lasagna

The serving size for these food items will be shown as a fraction of the food. It will be paired with its metric equivalent in grams. This will make serving size weights for similar products either the same or very close.

For example, the serving size on cracker boxes will have to be as close to 20 g as possible. This is because it will be the regulated amount. While the number of crackers may change, weights will be very similar. This will make it easier to compare products.

Figure 3. Amounts in pieces

Figure 3
   Amounts in pieces - Text Description

Shown here are four images of cracker boxes, each showing a mock-up of the top portion of a Nutrition Facts table.

In the Nutrition Facts tables of the first two cracker box images illustrating the current situation, the serving size of crackers A is listed as "Per 8 crackers (28 g)" and the serving size of crackers B is listed as "Per 8 crackers (14 g)". A justice scale holding the number of crackers shown in the serving size appears in between the crackers boxes.  The scale is tipped to the cracker A side as it has a larger serving size in weight than cracker B. Together, these images show that crackers A and B are hard to compare when the weight of the serving sizes are different.

In the Nutrition Facts tables of the second two cracker box images illustrating the situation under the proposed criteria, the serving size of crackers A is listed as "Per 6 crackers (21 g)" and the serving size of crackers B is listed as "Per 11 crackers (19 g)". A justice scale holding the number of crackers shown in the serving size appears in between the crackers boxes. The scale is balanced as a serving of crackers A and B have very similar weights. Together, these images show that crackers A and B are easier to compare when the weight of the serving sizes are very close.

3. Amounts typically eaten

For certain foods, the serving size will reflect the way they are typically eaten. It will be paired with its weight in grams. This will be helpful for:

  • ready-to-eat breakfast cereals
  • sliced bread
  • certain meat, such as:
    • roasts
    • whole chickens

For example, the serving size on a bag of bread will reflect that most people eat 2 slices of bread at one time.

Figure 4. Amounts typically eaten

Figure 4
   Amounts typically eaten - Text Description

Shown here are four images of loaves of bread, each showing a mock-up of the top portion of a Nutrition Facts table.

In the Nutrition Facts tables of the first two images of loaves of bread illustrating the current situation, the serving size of bread A is listed as "Per 1 slice (38 g)" and the serving size of bread B is listed as "Per 2 slices (63 g)". One thick slice appears below bread A and two thin slices appear below bread B. Together, these images show that the serving sizes of breads A and B are hard to compare when they are based on a different number of slices.

In the Nutrition Facts tables of the second two images of loaves of bread illustrating the situation under the proposed criteria, the serving size of bread A is listed as "Per 2 slices (76 g)" and the serving size of bread B is listed as "Per 2 slices (63 g)".  Two thick slices appears below bread A and two thin slices appear below bread B. Together, these images show that the serving sizes of breads A and B are easier to compare when they are based on the same number of slices.

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