Modernizing Canada's food regulations

The Food Regulatory Innovation Agenda

The Food Regulatory Innovation Agenda consists of three pillars of activity that will help modernize our food regulations. It aims to:

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Why we’re updating Canada’s food regulations

At their core, Canada’s food regulations ensure we have one of the safest food supplies in the world. This won’t change.

We‘re always looking ahead to understand any changes or emerging trends in the food sector that may affect how or what we regulate. Our food regulations need to keep pace with changes driven by:

For example, we must prepare for:

Our agenda: Three pillars

The agenda addresses challenges that our stakeholders have identified over the years, most recently through the Agri-food Economic Strategy Table and Regulatory Review consultations. Our commitments are outlined in the Agri-food and Aquaculture Sector Regulatory Review Roadmap. We’ll collaborate on this work with our federal partners, including the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Pillar One: Creating modern and agile food regulations

Projects under this pillar focus on ensuring our rules and regulations can be easily updated with the latest advances in science and technology. They will be able to accommodate consumer trends and preferences while maintaining the health and safety of Canadians.

These projects will address the following issues with the current regulations:

Pillar One projects

  1. Ensure a better response to emerging science
    • the aim is to make it easier to update microbiological safety criteria for foods, and use methods of analysis that ensure compliance with food safety and quality requirements
  2. Explore the use of foreign reviews and joint risk assessments
    • the aim is to bring safe, innovative food products, such as infant formula, to market more quickly
  3. Review and re-design our food regulations
    • the aim is to make it easier to follow, use and amend the regulations under the Food and Drugs Act (FDA)

Pillar Two: Introducing new pathways for innovative food

Projects under this pillar focus on ways to bring safe, nutritious, and innovative food products to market that current regulations do not allow.

Pillar Two projects will address the following issues with the current regulations:

Pillar Two projects

  1. Introduce new regulations for supplemented foods
    • to permit the sale of safe foods that contain added vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbal or bioactive ingredients
  2. Develop regulatory pathway for human milk fortifiers
    • to allow safe new products to improve the health of vulnerable populations (for example, pre-term infants or infants with specific health conditions)
  3. Permit clinical trials for food for a special dietary purpose
    • to enable the sector to generate evidence showing these products are safe and nutritionally adequate

Pillar Three: A better way of communicating with Canadians

Projects under this pillar focus on creating a regulatory environment that is clear, predictable, efficient and transparent. We will do this by improving the way we communicate with Canadians and industry about our rules and processes.

These projects will address the following issues with the current regulations:

Pillar Three projects

  1. Improve guidance for plant breeders
    • to encourage new developments in the plant breeding sector
  2. Formalize a joint food labelling coordination strategy
    • to provide greater predictability and transparency for industry with respect to food labelling changes
  3. Provide interpretation of Section 4 of the FDA
    • to make clear how the Government applies and uses these foundational food safety rules

Who will benefit from regulatory changes

How you can get involved

We will consult with Canadians about modernizing our food regulations throughout 2021 and 2022. If you are interested in participating, please sign up to Health Canada’s stakeholder registry and visit our health-related consultations page.

Contact Us

Karen McIntyre
Director General
Food Directorate
Health Products and Food Branch

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