Canada to slap warning labels on sugary, salty and fatty foods

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OTTAWA, June 30 (Reuters) - Foods high in sugars, sodium and saturated fat will come with clear warning labels in Canada starting in 2026, the federal government said on Thursday, in an effort to promote healthier eating choices and reduce chronic health risks.

"We know that it's not always easy to make healthy choices," Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos told reporters. "We need a quick and easy way of knowing exactly what options are the healthiest."

Under the new rules, a magnifying glass label will be required on all packaged foods with high levels of sugar, salt and saturated fat, along with text to make clear what "nutrients of concern" a food contains, Health Canada said.

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Manufacturers will have more than three years to prepare for the changes, with the rules set to go into force on Jan. 1, 2026, the agency added.

The policy will not apply to certain foods, such as plain milk and whole eggs, due to their health value. It will also exclude raw fish and meat, whether whole cut or ground.

Those exemption will come as a relief to Canada's meat industry, which lobbied against an earlier proposal that would have seen ground beef slapped with a warning label.

Canadians consume more than recommended amounts of sugar, sodium and saturated fat, officials said, adding the labels are not meant to classify food as healthy or unhealthy.

Diet-related chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease are leading causes of morbidity and mortality in Canada, with the economic burden seen to be C$28.2 billion ($21.9 billion) per year, according to Health Canada.

Ottawa also recently proposed written health warnings be printed on individual cigarettes. If Canada implements the measure, it will be the first country to do so. read more

($1 = 1.2889 Canadian dollars)

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Reporting by Ismail Shakil and Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Bradley Perrett and Marguerita Choy

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