Federal Politics: Canadians and Sodium Regulation

Canadians have no appetite for the NDP’s sodium proposal: poll
Industry committed to continued sodium reduction efforts

Download detailed tables

A new poll by Abacus Data says that the majority of Canadians don’t want the government spending their tax dollars on laws regulating sodium in food and beverage products, as the NDP are calling for.

When asked, 60 per cent of survey respondents agreed with the statement: Every time the government tries to regulate peoples’ choices it ends up costing taxpayers a lot of money and it only makes things worse. People are able to make food choices for themselves.

Sodium reduction has been a priority of food and beverage manufacturers for years. Manufacturers have been on a journey of gradually reformulating products and introducing new ones to give Canadians even more choices at the grocery store. There are already sodium-reduced products on store shelves, according to Food & Consumer Products of Canada, who commissioned the poll.

With Health Canada’s June 2012 release of the Guidance for the Food Industry on Reducing Sodium in Processed Foods, food and beverage manufacturers say they are on a path to work towards implementing Canada’s Sodium Reduction Strategy.

The document makes clear that reaching 2300 mg/day by 2016 cannot be done through reduction of sodium in processed food products alone. There will be an assessment of Canada’s sodium consumption levels in 2016, which will help measure progress.

“Our research finds that most Canadians have little faith that regulating the sodium content of food will lead to healthy outcomes. Food is one area where a majority of Canadians can agree: they want government out of their kitchens and not spending their tax dollars on costly regulations,” said David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data.


  • A study by the World Health Organization shows that Canadians consume amongst the lowest sodium levels in the world. Click here to see.
  • The U.K., after years of effort, has managed to bring their sodium consumption level down to where we are currently at in Canada. Realizing the complexity of the challenge, the U.K. government revised their targets and timelines on many occasions.

The survey was conducted online with 1,505 respondents in English and French using an internet survey programmed and collected by Abacus Data. A random sample of panelists was invited to participate in the survey from a panel of over 150,000 Canadians.  The survey was completed from December 7 to 8, 2012. The two questions reported in this release were part of an A/B test with a random half of the sample getting one version of the question and another half getting the other version. 

For more information:

David Coletto, PhD
Lead Researcher
Abacus Data
(613) 232-2806

Adam Grachnik
Senior Director, Communications & Events
Food & Consumer Products of Canada