Forward Regulatory Plan 2019-2021: Amendments to the Food and Drug Regulations – Restricting the amount of alcohol in single-serve flavoured purified alcoholic beverages
Title of Regulatory Initiative
Amendments to the Food and Drug Regulations – Restricting the amount of alcohol in single-serve flavoured purified alcoholic beverages
Food and Drugs Act
Health Canada is amending the Food and Drug Regulations to restrict the amount of alcohol in single-serve containers of flavoured purified alcoholic beverages.
These beverages can contain as many as four standard drinks per container without the taste of alcohol, as the alcohol base is purified, flavoured and often highly sweetened. Research indicated that these products are creating a public health risk, especially for youth, and are associated with unintentional overconsumption alcohol leading to acute alcohol poisoning and hospitalizations among youth. The objective of the amendment is to help protect Canadians—particularly youth—from unintentional overconsumption, which could lead to alcohol-related harms, including acute alcohol poisoning and death.
Regulatory cooperation efforts (domestic and international)
Alcohol regulations vary between countries and even between provinces. Where possible, Health Canada has taken into consideration existing regulations and policies in provinces such as Quebec and other countries (i.e. United States), with necessary distinctions to address the particular circumstances in Canada.
Potential impacts on Canadians, including businesses
The amendments will reduce the risk of Canadians unintentionally consuming multiple standard drinks of flavoured purified alcoholic beverages.
The amendments will impact a very small number of manufacturers of these products, who will need to reformulate or reformat to reduce the alcohol in their products.
The amendments could impact some retailers (e.g. liquor stores) of these products, as it will be illegal to sell flavoured purified alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content that exceeds the maximum regulatory limit once the regulations come into force.
Health Canada published a Notice of Intent (NOI) to restrict the amount of alcohol in highly sweetened alcoholic beverages sold in single-serve containers on March 19, 2018, which was also published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on March 24. Health Canada also issued a notification through its stakeholder registry on March 23 to all stakeholders who expressed an interest in the topic of alcohol. This first consultation period ended on May 8, 2018.
Health Canada also directly engaged with provinces and territories (P/Ts) and key health and industry stakeholders on collective areas of action, such as advertising of this category of alcoholic beverages. On April 30, 2018, Health Canada convened a call with P/Ts, and on June 8, 2018, Health Canada hosted a meeting that brought together P/T representatives, oversight bodies, health stakeholders, industry associations, and other stakeholders.
Based on feedback received, on June 28, 2018, Health Canada shared a proposed regulatory approach with stakeholders who commented on the NOI as well as other key government, health and industry stakeholders. Health Canada held a series of information meetings with stakeholders on this approach on July 6, 10, 16, and 17, and accepted additional comments until July 31, 2018.
Canadians had the opportunity to provide comments on the regulatory proposal during the Canada Gazette, Part I public comment period, which began in December 2018 and lasted for 45 days.
The publication of the amendments to the regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part II is expected to take place in spring 2019.
Related information can be found on Health Canada’s consultation page on flavoured purified alcohol.
Additional information can be requested from the Departmental contact.
Departmental contact information
Office of Legislative and Regulatory Modernization
Policy, Planning and International Affairs Directorate
Health Products and Food Branch
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date the regulatory initiative was first included in the Forward Regulatory Plan
October 1, 2018
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