with a few exceptions. The Guidelines on Nutrition Labelling (Canada, 1989) governed format, nutrient content information (core list and optional nutrients), and a declaration of serving size. Once applied, the nutrient declaration had to comply with the amended regulations (Canada, 1988b), which stipulated nomenclature, units of measurement, and expression on a per serving basis. Under the overall heading of “Nutrition Information,” amounts of vitamins and minerals were required to be expressed in terms of a percentage of a single set of nutrient reference values, Recommended Daily Intakes, per serving of stated size (Canada, 1986). Amounts of macronutrients were expressed in terms of weight; no percentage information was provided.
The process begun in 1983 had proposed criteria for rating the nutrient content of food based on two reference standards: a nutrient density index (NDI) and the percentage of a composite Recommended Nutrient Intake (RNI) derived from the Recommended Nutrient Intakes for Canadians (Canada, 1983a, 1983b). A reference set of RNIs expressed per megajoule (RNI/MJ) was derived by dividing the RNI for each age and gender group by the average energy requirements of that group. When the RNIs were not based on energy and the nutrient to energy ratios were not constant among groups (e.g., iron and vitamin C), the highest RNI/MJ was selected. The NDI was the amount of the nutrient per MJ in the food divided by the RNI/MJ. To arrive at the composite RNI, a demographic average energy intake was determined and the RNI/ MJ was multiplied by this number. Minimum levels for both the NDI and the composite RNI were required for claims. Relating all the RNIs to energy was criticized and the proposal was not pursued.
In 1986 Health Canada decided to set Recommended Daily Intakes for nutrition labeling using the highest RNI from 1983 for each nutrient for each age and gender group, omitting supplemental needs for pregnancy and lactation (Canada, 1986). Thus the values chosen were those for 19- to 24-year-old males (except for iron, for which the value was that of women of childbearing age). Recommended Daily Intakes were established for 11 vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folacin, vitamin B12, and pantothenic acid) and 6 minerals (calcium, iron, phosphorus, iodide, magnesium, and zinc). The Guidelines on Nutrition Labelling (Canada, 1989) specified the minimum nutrient content information, the label format, and the serving size information that would constitute nutrition labeling for food sold in Canada.
In 1996 Canada published its national action plan on nutrition, Nutrition for Health: An Agenda for Action (Joint Steering Committee,