Elements within the Nutrition Facts table
On this page
- Fat and fatty acids
- Vitamins and mineral nutrients
- Average energy content of nutrients
- Converting calories to kilojoules
- Energy values of sugar alcohols, glycerol and polydextrose
- Energy value of dietary fibre
The energy value of food is defined in the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR).
In nutrition, energy is measured using "calories". This unit is equivalent to the "kilocalorie" or 1,000 calories used in chemistry. The term "calories" must be used in prescribed nutrient content claims and in the Nutrition Facts table. In other situations, either variation may be used as it is common practice in nutrition to use "calories" and "kilocalories" interchangeably.
The energy value of foods should be calculated by the Atwater method, using specific factors from the latest revisions of USDA Agriculture Handbook No. 8: Composition of Foods (1984). Details of their derivation are outlined in A.L. Merrill and B.K. Watt, Energy Value of Foods – Basis and Derivation, USDA Handbook 74 (1955). The average factors in the table below may be used in place of the specific factors provided that the energy values are in reasonable agreement with the more accurate values determined according to Merrill and Watt.
It is the manufacturer's responsibility to ensure that the declared energy value accurately reflects the energy content of the product. Although one option is to determine the energy value directly through analysis, manufacturers may calculate the energy value either by the actual (un-rounded) nutrient content value for protein, fat and carbohydrate or the declared (rounded) values for these nutrients and then multiply them by the Atwater factors. When deciding whether to use the un-rounded or rounded value, the manufacturer should consider the amount of energy that will fall within the acceptable tolerances, provide the greatest consistency on the food label, and prevent any unnecessary consumer confusion. The CFIA will be calculating the energy value of a food using un-rounded nutrient content values of protein, fat and carbohydrates as determined by laboratory testing.
Average energy content of nutrients
|Carbohydrate Table note a||4||17|
Converting calories to kilojoules
To convert calories to kilojoules, use the following formula: 1 calorie = 4.184 kilojoules.
Calculation example – Oatmeal
Calculate the energy content of 250 ml of cooked oatmeal using specific energy factors:
|Nutrient||Amount in g||Specific energy factors for oatmeal
|Protein||3||x 3.46||= 10.38|
|Fat||1||x 8.37||= 8.37|
|Carbohydrate||13||x 4.12||= 53.56|
Total energy = 72.31 Cal
Rounded = 70 Cal
Converted to kilojoules: 72.31 Cal x 4.184 = 302.5 kJ
Rounded = 300 kJ
Calculation example – Macaroni and cheese
Calculate the energy of 250 ml of macaroni and cheese using the average energy values:
|Nutrient||Amount in g||Average energy values
|Protein||18||x 4||= 72|
|Fat||23||x 9||= 207|
|Carbohydrate||42||x 4||= 168|
Total energy = 447 Cal
Rounded = 450 Cal
Converted to kilojoules: 447 Cal x 4.184 = 1870.25 kJ
Rounded = 1870 kJ
Energy values of sugar alcohols, glycerol and polydextrose
|Energy source||Energy values
(Cal/g) Table note b
Energy value of dietary fibre
A value of 2 Cal (8 kJ) per gram should be used for the dietary fibre portion of the fibre source.
A value of less than 2 Cal (8 kJ) per gram may be used for the dietary fibre content if a specific value is available for the fibre source.
Energy value of bran
The energy value of the fibre portion of wheat bran is 0.6 Cal (2.5 kJ) / g and the wheat bran itself has an energy value of 2.4 Cal (10 kJ) / g.
Energy value of inulin
An energy value of 2 Cal (8 kJ) per gram should be used for inulin.
Fat and fatty acids
The FDR defines fats and fatty acids in their different forms.
Trans fatty acids
Health Canada's web page on fats describes the fatty acids that make up fats in foods, including trans fats and saturated fats. The information also includes what dietary fats are, why trans and saturated fats are an issue, where trans fats come from, what the main dietary sources of trans fats are, how to reduce trans fat intake, and what is being done to reduce trans fats in food.
Health Canada banned the use of partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of industrially produced trans fats in foods, by adding them to the List of contaminants and other adulterating substances in foods. It is now illegal for manufacturers to add this source of trans fatty acids to foods sold in Canada. This includes both Canadian and imported foods, as well as those prepared in all food service establishments.
Some trans fatty acids are naturally present at low levels in some foods, such as dairy products and meat. Most naturally present trans fatty acids fall within the definition of trans fatty acids and must be included in the trans fat declaration in the Nutrition Facts table on the label. Conjugated polyunsaturated fatty acids are not included in the label declaration of the trans content of the food because they do not fall within the trans definition. For example, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) found in dairy products and conjugated linolenic acid (CLN) should not be included in the trans fat declaration in the Nutrition Facts table. Laboratories are able to measure the trans fat content of a food, as defined in the FDR, and must not include the amount of conjugated fatty acids, such as CLA or CLN, as part of the analysis for trans fat content.
The CFIA recommends using the Official Methods of Analysis of AOAC International, Official Method 996.06 to determine the trans fatty acid content of foods. For further information see Appendix 4 – Laboratory Issues in CFIA's Nutrition labelling compliance test.
The Nutrition Facts tables on many imported products do not declare trans fat (see example in the image above). This is not acceptable as trans fat is a core nutrient that must be declared in Canada.
Sodium content is based upon the total sodium present in the food regardless of the origin of the nutrient. Calculation of the % daily value is based on the daily values for sodium in Part 1 – Daily values for macronutrients and sodium, in the Table of daily values. Daily values are given for different age groups. When using the table, be sure to use the appropriate column.
Like sodium, potassium content is based upon the total potassium present in the food. The % daily value is calculated by using the daily values for potassium in Part 2 – Daily values for vitamin and mineral nutrients, in the Table of daily values. Daily values are given for different age groups. When using the table, be sure to use the appropriate column.
For labelling purposes, the total amount of declared carbohydrates must include sugars (for example, monosaccharides such as glucose, and disaccharides such as sucrose), starch, dietary fibre, sugar alcohols (for example, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, maltitol syrup, mannitol, sorbitol, sorbitol syrup, xylitol, erythritol), glycerol and polydextrose.
The amount of carbohydrate may be determined by subtracting the content of protein, fat, ash and moisture from the weight of the product.
The Policy for Labelling and Advertising of Dietary Fibre-Containing Food Products (Health Canada, May 2017) defines dietary fibre as follows:
Dietary fibre consists of:
- carbohydrates with a degree of polymerization of 3 or more that naturally occur in foods of plant origin and that are not digested and absorbed by the small intestine; and
- accepted novel fibres
Novel fibres are ingredients manufactured to be sources of dietary fibre and consist of carbohydrates with a degree of polymerization of 3 or more that are not digested and absorbed by the small intestine. They are synthetically produced or are obtained from natural sources which have no history of safe use as dietary fibre or which have been processed so as to modify the properties of the fibre contained therein. Accepted novel fibres have at least one physiological effect demonstrated by generally accepted scientific evidence.
The substances in part 1 of the definition of dietary fibre as stated in the Policy for Labelling and Advertising of Dietary Fibre-Containing Food Products are all edible plant materials that have a history of use as food and have been processed or cooked using conventional processes. They include fruits, vegetables, pulses, seeds, nuts, cereals, legumes, etc.
Substances in part 2 of the definition include substances obtained from agricultural crop by-products and from raw plant materials, substances of animal or bacterial origin, chemically modified substances, synthetic products, etc. These substances are not historically used as food fibre sources. In addition, novel fibres may also include products used at higher than traditionally used levels in the diet.
There is no regulatory requirement for a Health Canada premarket assessment of novel fibre sources. However, a novel fibre source must be safe for human consumption and must have one recognized fibre physiological effect. Fibre declaration and claims are subject to regulatory oversight and manufacturers and importers must be able to disclose the evidence substantiating the safety and the physiological effect of their novel fibre sources in accordance with Health Canada's Policy for Labelling and Advertising of Dietary Fibre-Containing Food Products.
When a manufacturer or seller voluntarily submits for review a novel fibre information package, an assessment is conducted by the Bureau of Nutritional Sciences of Health Canada's Food Directorate and may result in the issuance of a letter of opinion about the acceptability of the food ingredient as a source of dietary fibre.
Manufacturers who are considering the use of novel fibre sources and require further guidance are advised to contact the Submission Management and Information Unit within the Food Directorate, Health Canada.
A List of dietary fibres reviewed and accepted by Health Canada's Food Directorate is available to help stakeholders in identifying and using brand name products and generic products found acceptable as fibre sources.
For calculating the energy value of dietary fibre, please refer to the energy section.
Dietary fibre analysis
For assessing compliance, CFIA has adopted the Association of Analytical Communities (AOAC) 2009.01 method as of April 1st, 2012. Health Canada's Policy for Labelling and Advertising of Dietary Fibre-Containing Food Products also provides a list of acceptable and validated methods that may be used to quantify fibre.
Sugars include all mono- and disaccharides, including sucrose, fructose, glucose, glucose-fructose, maltose, etc. Sugars must be declared in the Nutrition Facts table as "sugars" and expressed by their total value in grams per serving of stated size, and as a percentage of the daily value per serving of stated size [item 11 in table following B.01.401, FDR]. Calculation of the % daily value is based on the Daily Values for sugars in Part 1 – Daily values for macronutrients and sodium in the Table of daily values. Daily values are given for different age groups. When using the table, be sure to use the appropriate column.
Sugar alcohols include isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, maltitol syrup, mannitol, sorbitol, sorbitol syrup, xylitol and erythritol. Declarations of sugar alcohol content should not include the amount of water present in maltitol syrup and sorbitol syrup.
Declaration of sugar alcohols
Sugar alcohols can only be listed individually by name if there is only one present. Otherwise, they must be declared in the Nutrition Facts table as "sugar alcohols" or "polyols" [item 12 in table following B.01.402, FDR].
Declaration of sugar alcohols from hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH)
Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH) are a blend of sugar alcohols and higher polysaccharides. Section B.01.402 (6) of the FDR requires the amount of any added sugar alcohols to be declared in the Nutrition Facts table. Since HSH is a mixture, the amount of sugar alcohols declared would reflect the contribution from sugar alcohols in the blend.
The declaration for starch does not include dietary fibre. Starch may be analyzed directly, or calculated by difference. If analyzed directly, the carbohydrate components may not necessarily add up to 100%.
The protein rating of a food is based on the protein content in a reasonable daily intake of that food as sold as per Schedule K of the FDR.
Protein rating is calculated by multiplying the quantity of protein present in a reasonable daily intake of the food by the quality of the protein, which is the protein efficiency ratio (PER) of the food.
Protein rating = Protein in a reasonable daily intake × protein efficiency ratio (PER)
If there is no Reasonable Daily Intake specified for the product in Schedule K of the FDR, then the Reference Amount (RA) for the food may be used. When the food has no RA, the product is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Established PERs are listed in the table protein efficiency ratios. For those not already established, it is the manufacturer's responsibility to determine the PER. The official method for determining the protein rating is Method FO-1, October 15, 1981 – PDF (213 kb). However, Health Canada also permits the use of the protein digestibility – corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) method to calculate an estimated PER.
The PER may be estimated from the PDCAAS using the following formula:
PDCAAS for food x 2.5 = estimated PER for food
The PER of 2 or more sources cannot be added to calculate the total PER of a food with multiple sources of protein.
The PDCAAS method is described in the FAO/WHO publication on the PDCAAS method – PDF (451 kb). If using the PDCAAS, it is recommended the manufacturer keeps on file the information and references used to make that determination.
Calculating protein ratings
Example – calculating the protein rating of white bread
Percent (%) protein = 8.4
Reasonable daily intake = 150 g (5 slices)
Protein in a reasonable daily intake = 0.084 × 150 g = 12.6 g
PER = 1.0
Protein rating = 12.6 × 1.0 = 12.6
Example – calculating the protein rating of whole egg
Percent (%) protein = 12.8
Reasonable daily intake = 100 g (2 eggs)
Protein in a reasonable daily intake = 0.128 × 100 g = 12.8 g
PER = 3.1
Protein rating = 12.8 × 3.1 = 39.68
Protein efficiency ratios
|Food||Protein efficiency ratio (PER) Table note c|
|Beans, navy (dry)||1.51|
|Beef or veal, muscle||2.7|
|Gelatin or hydrolysed collagen||0|
|Lentils, cooked (all other lentils)||0.3|
|Lentils, whole green||1.3|
|Macaroni & cheese||2.1|
|Muscle meats (for example, bison, lamb)||2.7|
|Peas, split yellow||1.42|
Vitamins and mineral nutrients
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
- Folacin or folate
- Vitamin B12
- Pantothenic acid or pantothenate
The manner of determination of the vitamin content of a food, other than a formulated liquid diet, a human milk fortifier, an infant formula or a food represented as containing infant formula, is prescribed in section D.01.003 of the FDR.
Declarations of vitamins and mineral nutrients in the Nutrition Facts table are based on the combined total of both the naturally occurring nutrient content and any added nutrient content of a food. Vitamins and mineral nutrients are declared as total amounts and percentages of the daily value per serving of stated size [tables following B.01.401 and B.01.402, FDR].
Only those vitamins and mineral nutrients that are included in the tables Core nutrition information and Additional nutrition information are permitted to be included in the Nutrition Facts table.
Refer to Formulated liquid diets, Infant formula and Human milk fortifiers sections for information pertinent to these specific types of food.
The contribution of both retinol and its derivatives (for example, retinyl acetate, retinyl palmitate) and beta-carotene is used to determine the total vitamin A content of a specific food based on the following conversions:
|Source ingredient quantity||Vitamin A quantity||Vitamin A activity|
|1 µg All-trans retinol||1.00 µg RAE||3.33 IU|
|1 µg All-trans retinyl acetate||0.87 µg RAE||2.91 IU|
|1 µg All-trans retinyl palmitate||0.55 µg RAE||1.82 IU|
Vitamin A content is calculated on the basis of micrograms of retinol activity equivalents (RAE) and expressed in micrograms (µg), based on the following formula [D.01.003(1)(a), FDR]:
total µg RAE = µg of retinol + (µg of beta-carotene ÷ 12)
International Units (IU) were formerly used to express the vitamin A content of a food. IUs are still used in some sections of the FDR [for example, Division 8 – Dairy products, Division 9 – Fats and oils, sections D.01.009, D.01.010 and D.01.011] to provide specifications on the standards of identity for certain foods and for controlling the level of vitamin A that may be added to foods. To convert IU of vitamin A into retinol activity equivalents, the following formula is used:
1 µg RAE = 3.33 IU vitamin A
The following table may be used to convert IU of vitamin A to µg RAE.
|IU of vitamin A||µg RAE|
The following table may be used to convert µg RAE to % DV for vitamin A. Calculation of the % daily value is based on the Daily Values for vitamin A in Part 2 – Daily values for vitamins and mineral nutrients in the Table of daily values. Daily values are given for different age groups. When using the table, be sure to use the appropriate column.
|µg RAE||% DV
Foods solely for infants ≥ 6 months but < 1 year old Table note d
Foods for infants ≥ 6 months but < 1 year old
for children ≥ 1 year old < 4 years old Table note e
Any other case Table note f
The contribution of ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) is used to determine the total vitamin D content of a specific food [D.01.003(1)(b), FDR]. Vitamin D is measured in micrograms (µg). It was formerly expressed in International Units (IU). IUs are still used in some sections of the FDR [for example, Division 8 – Dairy products, Division 9 – Fats and oils, sections D.01.009, D.01.010 and D.01.011] to provide specifications on the standards of identity for certain foods and for controlling the level of vitamin D that may be added to foods.
The amount of vitamin D may be calculated based on the following relationship:
1 µg of either ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) or cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) = 40 IU vitamin D
The following table contains IU of vitamin D converted to µg, along with a calculation of the % daily value of vitamin D. Calculation of the % daily value is based on the daily values for vitamin D in Part 2 – Daily values for vitamins and mineral nutrients in the Table of daily values. Daily values are given for different age groups. When using the table, be sure to use the appropriate column.
|IU||µg||Foods solely for infants ≥ 6 months but < 1 year old Table note g||% DV
Foods for infants ≥ 6 months but < 1 year old
for children ≥ 1 year old <4 years old Table note h
Any other case Table note i
The amount of vitamin E expressed in milligrams (mg) is based on the content of d-alpha-tocopherol and dl-alpha-tocopherol and their derivatives [D.01.003(1)(c), FDR]. Alpha-tocopherol occurs naturally (d-alpha tocopherol or its synonym RRR-alpha tocopherol = natural vitamin E) or can be added as the synthetic form (dl-alpha-tocopherol or its synonym all racemic alpha-tocopherol = synthetic vitamin E). In addition, esterified forms (acetates, succinates of alpha-tocopherol) are used to increase the stability of the vitamin.
Vitamin E (mg) is calculated on the basis of the following:
1 mg d-alpha-tocopherol = 1 mg vitamin E
1 mg dl-alpha-tocopherol = 0.74 mg vitamin E
Vitamin E was formerly expressed in International Units (IU). IU are still used in sections D.01.010 and D.01.011 of the FDR, controlling the level of vitamin E that may be added to foods. IU are calculated on the basis of the following:
1 IU d-alpha-tocopherol = 0.67 mg vitamin E
1 IU dl-alpha-tocopherol = 0.45 mg vitamin E
The following tables give conversions of IU of vitamin E converted to mg (for d-alpha-tocopherol and dl-alpha-tocopherol), along with a calculation of the percentage of the daily value of vitamin E. Calculation of the % daily value is based on the daily values for vitamin E in Part 2 – Daily values for vitamins and mineral nutrients in the Table of daily values. Daily values are given for different age groups. When using the table, be sure to use the appropriate column.
|IU||mg Table note j||% DV
Foods solely for infants ≥ 6 months but < 1 year old Table note k
Foods for infants ≥ 6 months but < 1 year old
for children ≥ 1 year old < 4 years old Table note l
Any other case Table note m
|IU||mg Table note n||% DV
Foods solely for infants ≥ 6 months but < 1 year old Table note o
Foods for infants ≥ 6 months but < 1 year old
for children ≥ 1 year old < 4 years old Table note p
Any other case Table note q
The amount of vitamin C is based on the content of L-ascorbic acid and L-dehydroascorbic acid and their derivatives, calculated in milligram equivalents of L-ascorbic acid and expressed in milligrams.
Sodium erythorbate is permitted in a number of foods as a preservative. Erythorbate is not vitamin C as specified in D.01.003(1)(e) of the FDR. It is an inactive form that does not have the same physiological effect. However, it may show up as vitamin C in lab analysis if the lab is not making this distinction. CFIA labs can make this distinction when necessary, depending on the product in question. Vitamin C from erythorbate should not be declared in the Nutrition Facts table.
The amount of thiamine and its derivatives is based on the content of thiamine expressed in milligrams [D.01.003(1)(f), FDR].
The amount of riboflavin and its derivatives is based on the content of riboflavin expressed in milligrams [D.01.003(1)(g), FDR].
The amount of niacin and its derivatives is calculated in milligrams of nicotinic acid, plus the content of tryptophan, calculated in milligrams and divided by 60, with the total niacin equivalents (NE) expressed in milligrams [D.01.003(1)(h),FDR]. The conversion formula is as follows:
Total mg NE = mg niacin and/or nicotinic acid + (mg tryptophan ÷ 60)
The content of tryptophan in a food can be estimated if the protein content of the food is known. Tryptophan constitutes 1.5 percent of egg protein, 1.3 percent of protein from milk, meat, poultry or fish, and 1.1 percent of the protein from mixed and other sources [D.01.003(2), FDR].
Calculation example – % of the daily value of niacin in a mixed protein source
A 60 g serving of food contains 4.26 mg of niacin and 7.5 g of protein from a mixed source:
NE in mg from niacin alone = 4.26 mg
- Calculate the amount of tryptophan (which is 1.1% of the protein)
1.1% x 7.5 g protein = 0.082 g tryptophan = 82 mg
- Using the conversion formula above, divide mg of tryptophan by 60
82 mg / 60 = 1.36 mg
- Add niacin equivalents expressed in mg from the niacin and the tryptophan
4.26 mg+ 1.36 mg = 5.62 mg
- Calculate the % of the daily value of niacin (for children 4 years of age and older, and adults, daily value = 16 mg)
5.62 mg/16 mg x 100% = 35.125 %DV
- Round the % of the daily value as per the table to B.01.402 of the FDR to arrive at the % daily value for declaration in the Nutrition Facts table
35.125 % DV = 35 % daily value (rounded)
The amount of vitamin B6 is based on the content of pyridoxine, pyridoxal and pyridoxamine and their derivatives, calculated in milligram equivalents of pyridoxine and expressed as milligrams [D.01.003(1)(i), FDR].
Folacin or folate
The amount of folacin or folate is based on the content of folic acid (pteroylmonoglutamic acid) and related compounds exhibiting the biological activity of folic acid, calculated on the basis of micrograms of dietary folate equivalents (DFE). It is expressed in micrograms on the basis of the following relationship:
1 DFE = 1 μg food folate, and
1 DFE = 0.6 μg folic acid from food with added folic acid [D.01.003(1)(j), FDR]
The terminology required to be used in the label declaration is "folate" [item 23 of the table to B.01.402, FDR].
The amount of vitamin B12 is based on the content of cyanocobalamin and related compounds exhibiting the biological activity of cyanocobalamin, calculated in microgram equivalents of cyanocobalamin and expressed in micrograms [D.01.003(1)(k), FDR].
Pantothenic acid or pantothenate
The amount of pantothenic acid or pantothenate is based on the content of d-pantothenic acid and expressed in milligrams [D.01.003(1)(l), FDR]. Although pantothenate is also known by other names, for example, vitamin B5, it must only be declared as "pantothenate" or "pantothenic Acid" [item 26 of the table to B.01.402, FDR].
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