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The Globe and Mail

In pictures: A guide to common food labels

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The nutrition facts panel: The ground zero of nutrition labelling, nutrition facts panels are mandatory on virtually all prepackaged foods sold in Canada.

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Private labelling initiatives: Many grocery chains and private food companies have created their own labelling plans to promote foods that may be low in fat and calories or high in certain vitamins and nutrients. Loblaw Cos. Ltd. is rolling out a U.S.-based program called Guiding Stars in some of its stores. The program gives foods a nutritional rating between zero and three stars.

Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail

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Government-sanctioned labels: Governments around the world are considering new ways to reduce the consumption of unhealthy processed foods through initiatives that go beyond basic ingredient lists that are currently required on labels. Perhaps the most notable example comes from Britain, where the government announced it is expanding a program to help consumers easily evaluate the health of foods. Under the program, which will soon encompass virtually all packaged foods, products are given a traffic-light rating of red, green or yellow based on a variety of nutritional factors, such as the amount of fat, salt and sugar they contain.

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Graphic warning labels: The Ontario Medical Association floated the novel, if controversial, idea at a press conference this week for graphic warning labels. Under the proposal, foods that are high in calories but offer little nutritional value, such as pop, would be accompanied by a graphic picture, say, of a diseased liver, and a warning of the potential health risks.

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