Government of Canada continues to tackle food fraud
May 12, 2022 – Ottawa, Ontario
Canadian laws prohibit the misrepresentation of food. Mislabelling, adulteration and substitution of food are forms of misrepresentation and may constitute food fraud. To this end, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is helping ensure food is properly labelled and safe to consume, and that businesses can compete fairly in the Canadian marketplace.
The CFIA's newly published Food Fraud Annual Report: 2020 to 2021 outlines the results of its enhanced surveillance activities to test the authenticity of 5 foods: honey, fish, olive oil, other expensive oils (such as, sesame seed oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil and others), and spices. Overall, CFIA's testing showed 4 of the 5 commodities had satisfactory results above 87% while expensive oils (other than olive oil) had 66% satisfactory results. These 5 foods were selected as they are commonly reported as products likely to be misrepresented.
In instances where the results were unsatisfactory, the CFIA took corrective or enforcement action, including products being removed from Canada, or their detention, destruction, or relabelling. The results of the CFIA's work are being used to inform future sampling and inspection strategies to better target foods that are more likely to be misrepresented.
"Consumers expect food labels to be truthful and accurate. Through the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada our government is working closely to tackle food fraud so consumers can trust that food is accurately represented and safe."
– The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health
"Food fraud is a tactic that deceives consumers and is unfair to our agriculture and agri-food producers. Our government takes this situation seriously and is working to ensure that we maintain a fair competitive environment for the benefit of the general public and the vast majority of entrepreneurs who comply with regulatory requirements."
– The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
"Retailers understand the importance of consumers having trust in the food they purchase and knowing it is exactly what they pay for. That is why grocery retailers continue to invest in fraud prevention programs to further strengthen measures, and work closely with CFIA, suppliers, manufacturers and producers. This study highlights the ongoing need for all partners along the food supply chain to work together to ensure food integrity."
– Jason McLinton, Vice President, Grocery Division and Regulatory Affairs, Retail Council of Canada
"Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada is a long-standing industry leader in policy and regulatory dialogue with government, advocating for development of modern and effective regulations that support industry growth, innovation, and competitiveness, without compromising safety and quality. Our members take great pride in the safety and quality of their products; it is their number one priority. We recognize the growing concerns represented by food fraud's impact on both consumers and business and we fully support the CFIA's efforts and understand the role industry can play in addressing this critical issue."
– Michi Furuya Chang, Senior Vice President, Public Policy & Regulatory Affairs, Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada
In 2020 to 2021, the CFIA tested a total of 525 samples for authenticity. Its enhanced targeted sampling yielded the following satisfactory results:
- 88.5% honey
- 91.2% fish
- 87.8% olive oil
- 66.2% other expensive oils (such as, sesame seed oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, almond oil and others)
- 92.9% spices
The CFIA works with Canada's food industry to promote compliance and provides them with tools to help meet regulatory requirements. These include the Industry Labelling Tool, traceability interactive tool, the Automated Import Reference System, and the CFIA Fish List.
Under the Food Policy for Canada, launched in June 2019, the Government of Canada invested $24.4 million over 5 years for the CFIA to tackle food fraud. With this funding, the CFIA inspects, collects samples, tests foods for authenticity, gathers intelligence to better target its oversight activities, and broadens its research capacities. It also promotes regulatory compliance with industry and collaboration with other jurisdictions and other government departments through information sharing, exploring best practices and looking at innovative solutions to combat food fraud. This work protects consumers from deception and companies from unfair market competition.
The CFIA works closely with Health Canada, which supports these efforts by addressing health and safety risks related to food fraud, and researches potential new methods to detect adulteration in food.
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health
Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
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