Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Indigo, Ex-Lululemon CEOs Take Aim at Sugar, Call for Transparent Food Labelling

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Indigo, Ex-Lululemon CEOs Take Aim at Sugar, Call for Transparent Food Labelling

Article excerpt

Calls for transparent food labels in Canada


TORONTO - Two Canadian business leaders want the country's food industry to use more transparent labels so Canadians know just how much sugar they're consuming.

Indigo's CEO and the former CEO of Lululemon are making sugar one of their main targets as they fight to change industry standards.

Sugar is the enemy, said Heather Reisman, CEO of Indigo Books and Music Inc. (TSX:IDG) and executive producer of the 2014 documentary Fed Up, which takes on the sugar industry.

Lots of processed food contains high amounts of sugar, she said.

"Today, sugar is in everything -- everything," she said during a presentation to the Toronto Region Board of Trade earlier this week. "It's in ketchup. It's in canned foods. It's in the bread we eat."

People have become addicted to sugar, contributing to the obesity epidemic, Reisman said. For her part, she's prohibited Indigo stores from selling chocolate treats at checkout counters to help hungry customers avoid making sugar-laden impulse purchases.

On average, about 13 per cent of calories consumed in Canada come from sugar, according to Canada's Heart and Stroke Foundation. That's at least three per cent too much.

The foundation recommends sugar account for no more than 10 per cent of the calories people consume daily, or about 12 teaspoons for an average diet of 2,000 calories a day. The World Health Organization echoes this, but suggests less than five per cent, if possible.

Therefore, Canadians need to change the way they eat, Reisman said -- and to succeed they need easier-to-understand food labels.

Currently, food packages list how many grams of sugar are contained in a single serving size (like half a cup).

"You have to be a chemist to understand how much sugar is in the product," she said.

Instead, Reisman is calling for something more "straightforward," like the number of teaspoons rather than grams.

Reisman said she proposed the idea to people she said are responsible for re-labelling. "Guess what? No interest whatsoever."

She was unavailable later to respond to questions about what people she'd met with.

The federal government pledged to revamp food labels in the October 2013 throne speech. …

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