September 4, 2012
London, ON –Dr. Len Piché, a professor in Foods and Nutritional Sciences at Brescia University College, has created a new way to educate consumers about what they put into their grocery carts. And this might help parents pack more nutritious lunches for their children this fall. Piché provides unique information about foods grown or raised in Ontario through the Ontario Local Foods Nutrition Database. All food items are arranged and colour-coded according to the food groups in Health Canada’s ‘Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide.’
What is unique about this web site is that while most packaged foods have the nutrition label on the outside of the product for reference, foods such as loose fruits and vegetables, fresh grains, and meat, often do not. “Very rarely will you see the nutritional guide on a stock of corn. Our online database provides the information in a format that both consumers and health professionals are familiar with,” explains Piché.
This robust new database is a result of a project by Foods and Nutritional Sciences Master’s student Yolanda Fung, with the help of the IT staff. Fung says that this tool will “assist consumers in making more informed food choices.” Piché goes on to explain that not only does the database include the standard food guide servings for items in the four food groups, but that it also contains additional facts that would otherwise not be seen on the generic food label. “Folate, for example, is a nutrient that would be very important for women planning a family to read about, yet it is something that is not currently part of the standard nutrition label,” explains Piché.
Currently, there are other sources available for reference when obtaining nutritional food guide information, such as the Canadian Nutrient File; however, Piché explains that “the information is complex for the average consumer, making it difficult to understand.” The Ontario Local Foods Nutrition Database is designed for simplicity; click on a photo of the chosen food and immediately you will be taken to the associated nutritional food label.
Piché is hopeful that this tool will help to further educate the consumer about healthy food choices, and will provide additional nutrition information to niche markets. “Ideally, we want to help people to live healthy and active lives; the database provides nutritional information that will be useful, no matter what age you are.” Piché also hopes to eventually get this information into both elementary and high schools in Ontario, serving to educate the next generation on healthy eating.
The Ontario Local Foods Nutrition Database is currently available to the public and can be found at www.ontariolocalfoodgallery.ca
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Brescia University College, Canada’s premier women’s university college, is affiliated with Western University. The 1,275 women registered as either full or part-time students at Brescia study a wide variety of subjects in Arts, Social Sciences, and Foods & Nutrition in an empowering, compassionate, student-centred, and invigorating environment. Degrees are granted by Western. The Catholic College welcomes students from all backgrounds and values diversity. For more current and archived news, a listing of faculty experts, and photos please visit our Online Media Room athttp://www.brescia.uwo.ca/media/index.html