Consultation on proposed restrictions to flavoured purified alcohol
Notice to the Reader:The online consultation is now closed.
From Health Canada
This consultation will open for comment on December 21, 2018 at 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) and will close to new input on February 5, 2019.
The proposed amendments to the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) introduce a definition for a new class of alcoholic beverages, "flavoured purified alcohol", to which restrictions on alcohol content will apply.
Health Canada is proposing regulations to place a limit on the amount of alcohol that can be in single-serve containers of flavoured purified alcohol.
Flavoured purified alcohol
Flavoured purified alcohol is a new type of alcoholic beverage sold in Canada. Flavoured purified alcoholic beverages are distinct from traditional alcoholic products such as beer, wine, cider, spirits and spirits-based products. They are subject to a unique manufacturing process that strips the alcohol base of its taste and aroma. The beverage is then flavoured and often sweetened to enhance the taste. As a result, the beverage tastes like the added flavours and/or sweeteners, which mask the taste of alcohol.
Join in: how to participate
Read the Regulations Amending the Food and Drug Regulations (Flavoured Purified Alcohol) and submit your comments. Please note that the Canada Gazette is available online on Friday at 2 p.m. EST, ahead of its publication on Saturday.
Send us an email
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas or comments to make yourself heard.
Participate by mail
Send a letter with your ideas and input to the address below.
Please include the following in the subject line: 'Proposed restrictions to flavoured purified alcohol'.
Who is the focus of this consultation
This consultation is open to all Canadians.
In addition, Health Canada would like to hear from:
- Academics and experts
- Canadian youth and parents of youth
- Health professionals and associations
- Manufacturers and distributors of alcoholic beverages
- People with lived and living experience involving flavoured purified alcohol
- Provinces, territories, and other levels of government (e.g., regional health authorities) and governmental organizations (e.g., liquor control boards)
- Other interested parties
Goals of the consultation
The proposed amendments to the regulations would help protect Canadians from unintentional overconsumption. This could lead to alcohol-related harms, including acute alcohol poisoning and death.
Health Canada is concerned about flavoured purified alcoholic beverages that are high in alcohol and sold in large single-serve containers. Flavoured purified alcoholic beverages are formulated, packaged, and marketed in a manner that can appeal to a younger segment of the drinking population. The taste of alcohol is masked and the added sweet and fruity flavours make these alcoholic beverages taste comparable to soft drinks.
The combination of the affordability, sweet taste, high alcohol, and single-serve format can facilitate unintentional overconsumption. One container could be perceived as one drink while containing up to 4 standard drinks of alcohol*. These products have been implicated in hospitalizations and one death within the past year.
*What is a standard drink?
One standard drink is equivalent to 17.05 mL of pure alcohol, as defined by Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines. For example, 341 mL of beer at 5% alc/vol, 142 mL of wine at 12% alc/vol and 43 mL of distilled alcohol (spirits) at 40% alc/vol are all equivalent to one standard drink.
To put the risks in perspective, for a young person weighing 100 lbs (45kgs), consuming a single flavoured purified alcoholic beverage containing four standard drinks in under an hour would result in severe intoxication, with a blood alcohol concentration of greater than 0.15%, about twice the maximum legal limit for driving. If this same person consumed two in under an hour, it would result in a blood alcohol concentration greater than 0.3%, a level associated with hospitalization.
Impact of the proposed regulations
Flavoured purified alcoholic beverages would be limited to a maximum of 1.5 standard drinks if they are sold in a container of a volume of 1000 mL or less. An exception to this limit will be made for those beverages sold in glass containers of a volume of 750 mL or more as these are understood to be multi-serve.
This limit will result in the alcohol content of containers of flavoured purified alcohol matching many other types of single-serve alcoholic beverages currently on the Canadian market, such as spirits-based coolers, beer, and ciders, which are mostly sold in formats containing between 1.0 - 1.5 standard alcoholic drinks.
Without regulations, a 568 mL can of flavoured purified alcohol could contain 11.9% alc/vol (equal to 4 standard drinks). Under the new regulations, a 568 mL container would be limited to 4.5% alc/vol (equal to 1.5 standard drinks).
Examples of other allowable formats:
- Up to 7.2% alc/vol if sold in a 355 mL container
- Up to 5.4% alc/vol if sold in a 473 mL container
- Up to 4.5% alc/vol if sold in a 568 mL container
- Up to 3.6% alc/vol if sold in a 710 mL container
The input gathered through this process will be will be taken into consideration prior to the regulations being finalized and published in Canada Gazette, Part II.
- Canada's Low Risk Drinking Guidelines
- Notice of intent to amend the Food and Drug Regulations to restrict the amount of alcohol in single-serve highly sweetened alcoholic beverages
- Problematic Alcohol Use
- Regulations respecting flavoured purified alcohol
- The New Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy
Office of Legislative and Regulatory Modernization
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