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Coming to an Unpackaged Food Near You

October 6, 2011 by Dean Simmons, Registered Dietitian

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Next time you walk through your community, take a moment to observe the ground shifting beneath your feet. Don’t worry; I’m not referring to fault lines and earthquakes.

In August, while many of us were soaking up the summer sun, two news stories were released that sent small tremors through the nutrition landscape of B.C.

Both stories related to expanding the range of foods that will come with nutrition information to help people like you and me make more informed and healthier choices. We have become used to seeing nutrition labelling on most packaged foods, but comparable nutrient information is not typically available when we order foods that do not come in a package at restaurants, coffee shops and convenience stores. This is changing.

The new Informed Dining program, described in Andrea’s blog posting, will bring nutrition information into more restaurants in B.C., making it available when you order your food. Additionally, corner stores all over B.C. will soon voluntarily participate in the industry led Healthy Convenience Store initiative. At hundreds of participating convenience stores, you will soon see an increased amount of floor and shelf space being devoted to healthier foods and beverages that are lower in calories and sodium. You will also see nutrition information beside the display of ready-to-eat menu items.

As a dietitian, I work in the world of food and nutrition, but I make my food choices for a lot of different reasons - just like you do. I don’t always read food labels, but when I do, I like to look at the ingredient list first to get a sense of what I would be eating. I may then quickly scan the Nutrition Facts table to look for the option with the least amount of calories and sodium.

What do you think about having nutrient information available for menu items at restaurants and convenience stores? How and when would you use this information?

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