Canadian premiers are being reminded that if a sodium-reduction bill dies in the House of Commons next month, the provinces will suffer the consequences of a salty food supply with higher health care costs. The Ottawa-based Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is calling on provincial leaders to urge the prime minister and federal health minister to back Bill C-460, which is scheduled to be voted on May 8. If passed, the bill would require the federal government to introduce regulations concerning nutrition labeling on prepackaged foods, menu labeling at chain restaurants and advertising to children.
Health experts are lambasting Health Canada’s efforts to lower the amount of sodium Canadians consume and the lack of transparency surrounding the process. The average Canadian consumes far too much sodium and nearly 80 per cent of it comes from salt added to packaged and processed foods. For that reason, Health Canada created a set of voluntary guidelines for food manufacturers that set reduction targets for everything from flavoured tortillas to canned corn. The goal is to reduce the daily sodium consumption to 2,300 milligrams a day by 2016. (Current daily consumption is 3,400 milligrams.)..“We don’t have that data available in a transparent way that we can monitor that these changes are actually occurring,” said Kevin Willis, director of partnerships with the Canadian Stroke Network. “Government could require companies to make that information available so it can be verified. It’s all part of the transparent monitoring process.”