The Food Directorate of Health Canada has released a report “Summary of Health Canada’s Assessment of Health Claim about Vegetables and Fruit and Heart Disease”. The report discusses the consumption of vegetables and fruits and a reduced risk of heart disease and the appropriate wording and conditions to use such a health claim in foods.
With Heart Disease a major public health concern in Canada (second leading cause of death in Canada in 2011 according to Statistics Canada1), the Food Directorate evaluated a proposal for a claim about vegetables and fruit and the risk of heart disease in Canada. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had already accepted a health claim about vegetable, fruit and heart disease in 1993. After assessment of the FDA decision and the scientific evidence published since then, Health Canada concluded that sufficient scientific evidence exists to support a health claim about vegetables and fruit consumption (but not fruit or vegetable juices) and a reduced risk of heart disease.
However, the wording for the appropriate health claim relating fruit and vegetable consumption to heart disease has created issues for the Food Directorate. The term arteriosclerosis (considered synonymous to Coronary Heart Disease, the most common type of heart disease) is considered as one of the diseases that products (including food) are prohibited by the Food and Drugs Act to carry advertising or labeling for that states they can treat, prevent or cure. As a result, claims about heart disease for food products are actually prohibited. Health Canada has therefore published the necessary proposed regulatory amendments in Canadian Gazette, Part I, with the following proposed claim:
“A healthy diet rich in a variety of vegetables and fruit may help reduce the risk of heart disease”.
In order for a food product to qualify for the above claim, the following criteria are being proposed by the Food Directorate:
Note: The fruit or vegetable may contain only food additives of salt, herbs, spices, seasonings, water or food additives that are subject to Section 2 (Exemptions) of a marketing authorization.
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Statistics Canada. The 10 leading causes of death, 2011. [Accessed on: 2015 October 16]: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-625-x/2014001/article/11896-eng.htm