Case study on nutrition labelling policy-making in Canada

Can J Diet Pract Res. 2010 Summer;71(2):85-92. doi: 10.3148/71.2.2010.85.


Purpose: In order to understand policy-making capacities, we conducted an in-depth examination of three stages of the policy cycle (agenda-setting, formulation, and decision-making) leading to mandatory nutrition labelling, nutrient content claims, and health claims regulations in Canada.

Methods: Data were collected through document review and key informant interviews (n=24) conducted with government, industry, health organizations, professional associations, academia, and consumer advocacy groups.

Results: The policy-making processes were complex, unpredictable, and often chaotic. In the early stages, progress was hampered by a shortage of resources and negatively affected by policy silos. In spite of formidable barriers, a high degree of stakeholder convergence was achieved, which facilitated ground-breaking policy formulation. Success factors included a common health promotion issue frame that participants adopted early in the consultative process, "champions" within the federal government's health sector, strong advocates within a broad stakeholder community, and an innovative policy-formulation process overseen by an intersectoral advisory committee.

Conclusions: Authentic partnerships among government, industry, and key stakeholders strengthened policy-making processes while helping to overcome policy silos at the organizational level. Barriers were reduced through effective change management practices and collaborative advisory and communication processes. Future research should involve an examination of the population health outcomes associated with this policy initiative.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Food Labeling*
  • Nutrition Policy*
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Policy Making*