Government of Canada consults with Canadians on important changes to Canada’s food labelling system

News release

June 21, 2019—Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Canadians rely on food labels to make informed decisions on what they buy and eat. As the Government of Canada moves to provide consumers with more useful information and support innovation by food businesses, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, and the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, today announced that the Government is consulting with Canadians on proposed changes to food labels in Canada.

The proposed changes to labelling requirements in the Food and Drug Regulations and the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations were pre-published today in the Canada Gazette, Part I, and are available for consultation. Consumers, industry, and other stakeholders are encouraged to submit comments on the proposed changes by September 4, 2019.

The proposed changes would make information on food labels clearer. They would improve consumers’ ability to compare products, read and understand labels, and obtain useful product information, such as where imported food comes from, what the food contains, and how long the quality of the food will last.

The changes would also amend outdated and unnecessary regulations and provide Canada’s food industry with some flexibility in how the regulations apply to certain requirements. This is necessary in an evolving food environment and helps promote innovation and facilitate market access for Canadian food businesses. The changes better align Canada’s labelling requirements with international standards, as well as the requirements of key trading partners, which would facilitate trade for Canada’s food industry.

To ensure industry is given adequate time to make any labelling changes, a phased-in transition period is proposed to reflect industry readiness and align with other Government of Canada labelling initiatives.

The proposed changes are based on extensive stakeholder consultations. Consumers, industry, and other stakeholders were integral in helping the Government reach this point.

The proposed regulatory changes are another example of the Government of Canada’s commitment to regulatory reform focussed on supporting innovation under Budget 2018 and the 2018 Fall Economic Statement.

Quotes

“Canada’s food industry has evolved due to new technologies, changes in supply chains and trading patterns, and in response to consumer interest and demand for more diverse foods. The proposed regulatory changes would allow food businesses to be more innovative and improve competitiveness.”

— Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

“Canadians count on food labels to help them make good choices. Over time, consumers have become increasingly savvy and knowledgeable about food and expect more of food labels. The Government of Canada is responding to the evolving needs of consumers by introducing important labelling changes through clear and consistent food labels. Our government is working to create a modern labelling system that Canadians can trust.”

— Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health

Quick facts

  • The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) first began consultations on food labelling requirements in 2013 and received nearly 7,800 comments over 3 rounds of consultations

  • Several regulatory changes to labelling requirements are proposed that relate to date marking (best before date), food company contact information, origin of imported foods, legibility and location of label information, percentage declaration of characterizing ingredients, test market foods, standard container sizes, class names, as well as modernizing and streamlining food commodity specific labelling requirements

  • Responsibility for food labelling is shared by CFIA and Health Canada: Health Canada looks after the health, safety, and nutritional quality aspects; CFIA administers the non-health and safety food labelling regulations and policies and enforces both the health and safety and non-health and safety requirements

  • The goal of the Government’s regulatory reform is to make Canada’s regulatory system more agile, transparent, and responsive to allow businesses to act on new opportunities, while continuing to protect Canadians’ health and safety

Associated links

Contacts

Justine Lesage
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
justine.lesage@canada.ca
Mobile: 613-404-1168

Thierry Bélair
Office of Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health
613-957-0200

Media Relations
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
613-773-6600
cfia.media.acia@canada.ca


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