In 2012, Health Canada published voluntary targets for reducing sodium in processed food by the end of 2016. In 2017, Health Canada evaluated the food industry’s efforts to meet the sodium reduction targets and published the result in a report that can be accessed here.

BAC review of the report is summarized in this PDF document.

Health Canada’s new Voluntary Sodium Reduction Targets for Processed Foods 2020-2025, were released on December 18, 2020.

The new 2020-2025 maximum targets for pantry breads are:

  • 520 mg /100 and 360 mg/100g SWA for white bread;
  • 400 mg /100 g and 330 mg/100g SWA for whole wheat bread and whole grain breads.
  • The category for pantry bread and rolls has been split into three new subcategories: whole wheat & mixed grain products; white bread products; and pizza crust.
  • English muffins and raisin bread have been split into two categories and their targets adjusted.
  • Within the pantry bread and rolls category, the SWA target for whole wheat & mixed grain bread and rolls was adjusted downwards and the SWA target for white bread and rolls was given a higher target to reflect comments received from the food industry related to technical challenges they faced when trying to reduce sodium below the 2016 maximum level targets.
  • Pizza crusts were pulled into a separate category and given a higher target because these products contained sodium preservatives for increased shelf life and were clustered at the high end of the original pantry bread and rolls category.


The World Health Organization recommends a reduction in free sugars intake to less than 10% energy or ideally less than 5% energy. Health Canada recommends a healthy eating pattern where most sugars come from fruit, vegetables and unsweetened dairy products such as plain milk or yogurt. Canada’s Food Guide recommends to replace sugary drinks with water; to prepare meals and snacks using ingredients that have little to no added sodium, sugars or saturated fat and to compare the nutrition facts table on foods to choose products that are lower in sodium, sugars or saturated fat.


White bread (made from enriched wheat flour) and whole grain bread both contribute many nutrients to the diet, but each is higher in key nutrient.

People who eat about 3 servings of whole grains a day, like whole grain bread, tend to have a lower body mass index. [Qing Ye E et al. “Greater Whole-Grain Intake Is Associated with Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Weight Gain.” The Journal of Nutrition. 2012; 142(7)]

46% reduction rate of neural tube defects in 7 provinces since 1998, when folic acid fortification of flour began.

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The nutritional composition of wheat hasn’t changed in 150 years. [Hucl P et al. “Genetic Gains in Agronomic and Selected End-Use Quality Traits over a Century of Plant Breeding of Canada Western Red Spring Wheat.” Cereal Chemistry Journal . 2015; 92(6)]

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In Canada, all refined wheat flour is fortified with these nutrients: thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid and iron.

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Folic acid (vitamin B9) is a water-soluble B group vitamin. It is present in foods as folate and in supplements as folic acid, which has greater bioavailability. Adequate folate intake is important for protecting against neural tube birth defects (NTDs).

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Acrylamide is a chemical that naturally forms in certain foods, particularly plant-based foods that are rich in carbohydrates and low in protein, during processing or cooking at high temperatures.

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Azodicarbonamide has become known as the “yoga mat” chemical. It is a chemical compound added to flour as a bleaching and improving agent. It is also used as a foaming agent in the production some plastic products (such as yoga mats).

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Caramel colors have been approved and safely used in foods and beverages for decades.

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L-cysteine is a non-essential amino acids that can be formed in the body through the conversion of the essential amino acid methionine.

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9. Tartrazine

Tartrazine is a synthetic lemon yellow azo dye used as a food coloring.

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