Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Health Canada's Food Fortification Policies

This morning CBC Radio One reported on proposed changes to Health Canada's Food Fortification Policies. It worried me. Worried me a lot. So much, in fact that I wrote a letter of concern to my MP, the Minister of Health and Deputy Minister of Health.

If you wish to read the proposed changes, the document is located here: Addition of Vitamins and Minerals to Foods, 2005


To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Andrea Milne. I am a research assistant at the University of Alberta. I have a Bachelors of Science in Nursing degree. I am currently enrolled in the Master of Library and Information Studies program at the University of Alberta, where I have a particular interest in food and diet related information seeking behaviours of undergraduate university students. I am writing because I am concerned about Health Canada’s proposed changes to their food fortification policies.

I find the idea that producers of pre-packaged convenience foods may be permitted to fortify their products with vitamins and minerals alarming. I am concerned that many Canadians do not know how to critically evaluate food labels and other health claims on food packaging. This lack of knowledge leads to poor food and diet choices by Canadians and contributes to the growing problem of obesity and other weight-related diseases. Allowing fortification of convenience foods will only confuse consumers. It may lead to increased selection of unhealthy food because they are said to be fortified with vitamins and minerals while still containing high levels of sodium, sugar, fat and calories. This is especially concerning as Canadians may select these convenience foods over healthier choices that contain vitamins and minerals naturally along with having low levels of sodium, sugar, etc.

I am writing this letter to encourage Health Canada to not bow to food manufacturers’ requests for a more lenient food fortification policy. Canada should not follow the lead of the United States in this matter. I feel Health Canada could serve Canadians better by providing greater levels of education on how to use Canada’s Food Guide, to select healthy food and to read food labels. I believe that a greater awareness of food choices and how it affects health could improve the well being of Canadians and decrease the burden of weight-related diseases on Canada’s health system. Something I doubt fortified convenience food could do.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Andrea Milne, BScN

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