Just The Facts

Fat & Trans Fat

Certain fats are necessary for your health. Fat helps to absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E, K.

There are four types of fat in our diet: monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, saturated fat, and trans fat. Canada’s Food Guide recommends that we limit foods high in saturated and trans fat.

Maple Leaf offers a variety of meat choices with different amounts of fat. Check the Nutrition Facts table for the amount of fat and % Daily Value.

Did you know?

When you see “Low Fat” on a food package it means the product has less than 3 grams of fat per serving.

Trans Fat Free

Trans fats are known to increase risk of heart disease. The Institute of Medicine recommends that we have as little trans fat as possible in our diets. In Canada, trans fats have been significantly reduced in our foods. As of 2011, 97% of foods met the trans fat limits set by the Government of Canada. 9
Did you know?

Virtually all Maple Leaf products, except for some baked goods, are trans fat free.

When you see “Trans Fat Free” on a package the product has less than 0.2 grams of trans fat and less than 2 grams of saturated fat per serving.


Most Canadians eat too much sodium. On average we consume 3400 mg of sodium per day. The recommended maximum for sodium is 2300 mg a day for adults and less for children 10. This is about the amount of sodium in one teaspoon of salt. Eating too much sodium can increase risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.

Sodium does have a role to play.

  1. It helps the body control blood pressure and ensure muscles and nerves work well.
  2. Salt, or sodium chloride, is an essential ingredient in the preparation of many foods. In the case of prepared meat products, it plays an important role in food safety and food preservation as well as enhancing flavor and texture.

Maple Leaf Efforts to Reduce Sodium

Canadians consume about 3,400 mg of sodium each day, which is more than double the amount we need. Reducing or removing sodium from our prepared meats products is a priority, although it is inherently challenging, given the important role of salt in enhancing food safety.

Almost 100% of our fresh pork and poultry products are low in sodium and well below the voluntary 2016 Health Canada guidelines, which are designed to help Canadians achieve an average daily sodium intake of 2,300 mg.

Did you know?

The Government of Canada has set voluntary guidelines to reduce sodium in foods - to be met by 2016. Learn more on Health Canada's website.

About 40% of our prepared meats products currently meet the 2016 sodium guidelines, including a range of low-sodium options that meet specific dietary needs. We are striving to do even better – every new protein product we launch, with the exception of some cured meats, must meet these 2016 voluntary guidelines. We will continue to report on our progress on sodium reduction in our Sustainability Report.

Reducing Sodium at Home

Preparing meals at home helps you control how much sodium is in your food. Try the tips below for ways to lower your sodium.
7  Low-Sodium Cooking Tips
  1. Cook with little or no salt.
  2. Taste your food before adding salt.
  3. Rinse canned vegetables, beans, lentils, and chickpeas before using.
  4. Cook pasta, noodles, and rice in unsalted water.
  5. Use less of the seasoning that comes with taco kits, packaged macaroni and cheese, pasta, and rice mixes.
  6. Limit high-sodium condiments such as soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, ketchup and mustard.
  7. Flavour food with herbs and spices instead of salt.

Adapted: healthycanadian.gc.ca

Sodium in Common Foods

Commons Foods *Sodium (mg)
Frozen Dinner, Ginger Beef Stir Fry, 230 gram tray 620
‘Fast Food” Pizza, Cheese Thin Crust, 1 slice 366
Whole Wheat Bread, 2 slices 299
Maple Leaf Top Dog, 1 hot dog 325
Fast Food Hamburger, with ketchup, mustard, pickles 510
Diced Cheddar Cheese, 50 grams 310
0% Plain Greek Yogurt , ¾ cup 70
Ready-to-Eat Oatmeal Crisp Raisin, 1 pouch 193
Prime Chicken, Baked, 75 grams 37
Maple Leaf Bacon, 50% Sodium Reduced, 1 slice 69

*Canadian Nutrient File and marketplace

Nitrate And Nitrite

What You Should Know About Nitrate, Nitrite And A Healthy Balanced Diet

Nitrate and nitrite are naturally-occurring molecules that are everywhere in our environment. Green leafy vegetables, beets and radishes contain the highest levels of nitrate. The nitrate in vegetables, cheese, cured meats, and even our drinking water, are naturally converted into nitrite and nitric oxide in our bodies.

According to health experts and many research studies, nitrite and nitric oxide are essential for a healthy metabolism as they:
  • Signal arteries to relax and expand
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Protect against heart attack and stroke
  • Signal immune cells to kill bacteria and cancer cells
  • Signal brain cells to communicate with each other
  • Reduce asthma symptoms
  • Regulate insulin signalling and secretion

How do our bodies get nitrate, nitrite and nitric oxide?

Vegetables such as beets, celery, lettuce, radishes and spinach contribute about 85-90% of our dietary intake of nitrate. In our mouths, good bacteria react with nitrate to produce nitrite and provide approximately 50% of the body’s nitric oxide. The highest levels of nitrite are found in colostrum - the breast milk produced immediately after birth. This is nature’s way of supplementing the production of essential nitric oxide to keep babies healthy.

Nitrate and Nitrite Levels in Foods1

Items Nitrate(mg/100g) Nitrite(mg/100g)
Spinach 741.0 0.02
Musterd greens 116.0 0.003
Salad mix 82.1 0.13
Coleslaw 55.9 0.07
Broccoli 39.5 0.07
Tomato 39.2 0.03
Carrots 0.1 0.006
Banana 4.5 0.009
Fruit mix 0.9 0.08
Orange 0.8 0.02
Meats/prepared meats
Hot dog 9.0 0.05
Bacon 5.5 0.38
Pork tenderloin 3.3 0
Ham 0.9 0.89

1 The Nitric Oxide (NO) Solution: How to Boost the Body’s Miracle Molecule to Prevent and Reverse Chronic Disease by Nathan S. Bryan, PhD and Janet Zand, OMD with Bill Gottlieb. Published in 2010 by Neogenis.

Cultured celery extract is cultured to produce nitrite through a process similar to adding bacterial culture to milk to produce yogurt. In combination with vinegar, lemon juice and sea salt, cultured celery extract is a natural preservative that plays an important role in food safety. For more information about these products, please read our product brochure.

Nitrate/nitrite is found in a variety of fruits, vegetables and other foods. Actually over 90% of our dietary intake is from foods other than prepared meats. For example, you’d have to eat 120 slices of Natural Selections cured meats to equal the amount in a single stalk of celery.

Nitrate and nitrite in cured meats

To safeguard Canadians, Health Canada requires that nitrate and nitrite be used in certain cured meats to protect against the growth of harmful spore-forming bacteria such as Clostridium botulinum. Nitrite can be added to meat products in two ways: either through sodium nitrite, which is synthetically produced, or through a natural source like cultured celery extract. Either way, they provide the same important food safety benefits.

Cured meats can be part of a healthy balanced diet. They are an important convenient source of protein, iron and minerals.

We spent four years developing our Maple Leaf Natural Selections and Schneiders Country Naturals products. They are very different from our conventional products.
  • sodium nitrite;
  • sodium phosphate;
  • sodium diacetate;
  • potassium lactate;
  • and sodium erythorbate.
We added natural ingredients, such as:
  • lemon juice;
  • sea salt;
  • vinegar;
  • and vegetable-based ingredients, such as cultured celery extract.

These are premium products. We removed artificial preservatives and replaced them with natural ingredients. We only use the finest cuts of meat. These products are among the very best tasting sliced meats in the market.

Made With Natural Ingredients

Since launching our Maple Leaf Natural Selections® and Schneiders Country Naturals products, we have introduced more than 100 new products made with simpler, more natural ingredients such as lemon juice and sea salt.

What does Natural mean?

According to the Canada the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), “natural” is:
  1. Not to have an added vitamin, mineral, artificial flavouring agent or food additive.
  2. Not to have any ingredient removed, except water.
  3. Not to have been processed that significantly altered their original physical, chemical or biological state.

The CFIA also states that labels and advertisements should not suggest "nature" has, by some miraculous process, made some foods nutritionally better than others.

Maple Leaf Products Made With Natural Ingredients.
Here are a few products

Raised Without Antibiotics And Hormones

Our society is increasingly concerned about the use of antibiotics in animal production, with alternate drug choices for the treatment of many bacterial infections becoming more limited, more expensive or non-existent. Maple Leaf is committed to minimizing or eliminating the use of antibiotics wherever possible, while maintaining high standards of animal care. We have launched several “raised without antibiotics” products across our branded, private label and foodservice portfolios in Canada and the United States. We will continue to expand our offerings to meet growing demand, through transitioning our own animal production operations and working closely with our contract pork and poultry suppliers.

Visit the Treat Animals Well section in our Sustainability Report to learn about our antibiotic use in pork and poultry.

Maple Leaf follows government regulation for defining its RWA products. Should any animals in our RWA program become sick, all treatment options to restore their health will be considered in consultation with a veterinarian, including use of an antibiotic. That treated animal would then be removed from the RWA program, and follow the same rigorous withdrawal procedures mandated by Health Canada.

Maple Leaf does not use hormones with any of their pork or poultry production.


A gluten-free diet does not include gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, triticale, barley. Gluten causes health issues in people with celiac disease.

Many people choose gluten-free foods because they have celiac disease or may have a “sensitivity or intolerance” to gluten. You should not start a gluten-free diet without being tested or diagnosed or consulting with a health professional. According to the Canadian Celiac Association, the prevalence of this sensitivity is not well known.

9. Arcand. J. et al. trans fatty acids in the Canadian Food Supply: an updated analaysis. American Society for Nutrition. 2014. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25099549 10. http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/healthy-eating-saine-alimentation/nutrients-nutriments/sodium/basics-savoir-eng.php#a2