Centre for Science in the Public Interest

For the Record

For Immediate Release:
March 30, 2004

Related Links:
Réponse aux critiques de l'industrie alimentaire
Response to Industry criticisms

Dear Member of Parliament
Cher Deputé / Chere Deputé

Letter to Ministers Pettigrew and Bennett

Bill C-398 in Brief
Summaire de C-398

See also, information concerning the most recent hour of debate:

For more information:
Bill Jeffery, CSPI's National Coordinator,
at (613) 244-7337.

   Media Advisory: House of Commons to vote on Bill C-398, An Act to Amend the Food and Drugs Act this Wednesday, March 31, 2004
OTTAWA (March 30, 2004): The House of Commons is set to hold a second reading vote on Bill C-398, An Act to Amend the Food and Drugs Act this Wednesday, March 31, 2004. The NDP, Bloc Québécois and, at least, a significant number of Liberal backbenchers are expected to support the bill.

Bill C-398, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (food labelling), sponsored by Liberal MP Tom Wappel, proposes to require that:

  • fast food chains post the number of calories in menu items beside prices on menu boards, and require that full-service restaurant chains (where more spacious menus are provided) to also display the amounts of saturated plus trans fat, and sodium;
  • all fresh meat, poultry and seafood (not just ground, processed and frozen meat) sold in retail stores disclose full nutrition information to be required for most other pre-packaged foods by December 2005; and
  • packaged, processed foods disclose the percentage-by-weight of main ingredients and others especially relevant to health, like added sugars, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.

According to the Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the bill is consistent with commitments in the 2002 and 2004 Throne Speeches to tackle diet-related disease, and on-going negotiations among federal, provincial and territorial health ministers to develop a "Pan-Canadian Healthy Living Strategy." Bill C-398 also builds on nutrition label regulations promulgated in January 2003 by former Minister of Health Anne McLellan. Those new rules are predicted to generate $5 billion in health care cost savings and productivity gains -- 20 times the costs of modifying labels.

Diet-related cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis cost Canadian society $6.3 billion, and as many as 25,000 lives annually. Bill C-398 is supported by 29 health and citizens groups representing 2 million Canadians.

CSPI Canada