Health Canada to propose heart health claims for food

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Health claims Nutrition Health canada

The Canadian government is preparing proposals to allow the use of health claims on food labels that would highlight the heart health benefits of certain compounds.

The foods or ingredients being considered include oats, psyllium, phytosterols, whole grains, fruit and vegetables.

Health Canada said the regulatory proposals being prepared – which are part of efforts to review its current system for the management of health claims made on food – would allow claims linking these products and heart disease.

In an Action Plan published on Thursday, the nation’s food regulator also confirmed that it will not be accepting the use of qualified health claims – which are those that include disclaimers related to the degree of scientific support for the claim.

Health claims review – Plan of action

The Action Plan sets out the agency’s progress and intentions in the review of its health claims process, and includes considerations canvassed from industry and other stakeholders during a series of consultations conducted last year.

Available here​, the five-year plan outlines five main goals and a series of ongoing or planned actions to attain them. These are:

  • Improving the efficiency and transparency of processes
  • Supporting good quality submissions
  • Increasing industry's capacity to make function claims
  • Enhancing consumer confidence in the regulations of health claims
  • Clarifying the overlap at the food-natural health product interface

Health claim submissions

As part of its efforts to improve its health claims approval process, Health Canada said it will provide industry with a single point of entry for filing for health claims via the newly created Submission Management and Information Unit within the Food Directorate.

Evaluators are currently being hired and trained to review health claims submissions. The agency said it aims to have 90 percent of submissions reviewed within target review times within five years.

The plan also confirms that development is in progress for an abbreviated review process for the use of claims based on authoritative statements or claims authorized in other jurisdictions. This would aim to speed up the approval of some health claims.

In addition, in order to ensure that claims are not misleading, consumer research will be conducted to gauge consumer interpretation of the proposed health claim statements on foods.

To access a Health Canada Q&A document on health claims used in Canada, click here.

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