Want to know how much salt and fat there is in your food? Tough luck, thanks to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Want to know how much salt and fat there is in your food? Tough luck, thanks to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Do you know what’s in your food? (Image: Jason Lam) 

While Canadians decide who they want leading the country, the bureaucracy in Ottawa is largely spinning its wheels until the next guy comes to boss them around. With all that spare time on their hands, some bureaucrats are turning to the time-honoured tradition of leaking to the press, and in this case we’re glad they are: it looks like the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has gotten out of the business of checking out the nutritional claims made by food producers on their labels.

According to the Montreal Gazette:

The federal government has suspended inspection activities indefinitely that were meant to make sure food companies and restaurants don’t mislead consumers with underweight products or exaggerated nutrition claims, Postmedia News has learned.

In a memo from the management of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to inspectors outlining consumer-protection inspection activities for 2011–12, the agency confirmed that “until further notice,” all “net quantity verification activities are deferred.”

This program was aimed at food products sold at grocery stores to make sure producers or retailers don’t overstate the declared weight of food items.

Before anyone thinks twice about eating what’s on the shelves, the cancelled programs aren’t exactly about food safety. Instead, these programs are all about keeping food producers and fast-food joints honest with things like calorie counts and sodium content. And keeping them honest is no mean feat, apparently: the Gazette reports that out of 33 menu items sampled at restaurants like McDonald’s, KFC and Taco Bell, 14 actually contained more fat than had been stated. Given Ottawa’s recent moves to liberalize salt intakes across the country, we just need one more data point before “Ottawa makes food unhealthier” becomes a trend.

Inspections of food weights, nutrition claims suspended [Montreal Gazette]