(Oct. 27) OTTAWA — The Canadian government doesn’t require nutrition labeling on fresh produce, but if shippers want to tout health-related claims, the government wants it done right, said Marie-Claude Thibault, director of health and food safety for the Canadian Produce Marketing Association.

Thibault said if shippers print nutrition labels on their packaging, or if they make health-, vitamin- or mineral-related claims, they must follow a new set of guidelines.

However, they must follow regulations in a more than 250-page document, which many might find difficult to comprehend.

ONLINE GUIDE

To help shippers comply with the requirements, CPMA has created an online information source that outlines the steps that should be taken.

The Web site includes a summary, graphics and a checklist that combine to explain Canada’s new nutrition label requirements, which went into effect Jan. 1.

“We’re hoping that that new tool will help people understand better what’s required and avoid having their products either pulled at the wholesale or retail level,” Thibault said.

The checklist will guide members through about 12 requirements of the nutrition labeling regulations. CPMA also will be available to review label design and wording. “They have to meet the requirements,” Thibault said. “It’s not a question of trying.”

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN U.S., CANANIAN RULES

Exporters and Canadian shippers must both meet the new regulations, which Thibault said presents a problem for shippers that sell products in both the U.S. and Canada.

While the nutrition labels in Canada must now more closely resemble those of the U.S., there are slight differences that must distinguish the two. Therefore, shippers can’t simply use the same nutrition label in both countries.

The Canadian nutrition label, for example, must include information about trans fats, which is not required in the U.S., Thibault said.

In addition, governments in the U.S. and Canada disagree on the amount of vitamins and minerals in certain fruits and vegetables, Thibault said. Therefore, labels must indicate differences respecting each countries’ estimations, and they must be printed in both English and French.