Food Processing Aids

This section provides information on processing aids and their use in Canada.

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What are food processing aids and how are they regulated?

There is no explicit regulatory definition of a food processing aid in Canada. The Food Directorate informally defines a food processing aid as a substance that is used for a technical effect during food processing or manufacture but, unlike food additives, its use does not affect the intrinsic characteristics of the food and it results in no or negligible residues of the substance or its by-products in or on the finished food.

How a substance is used in food processing determines how it is classified. A substance that is regulated as a food additive in one situation may be considered a processing aid in a different situation. The Food Additive webpage and the "Policy for Differentiating Food Additives and Processing Aids" provide more detail in this regard.

There is no regulatory requirement for preclearance of processing aids by the Minister of Health. However, Health Canada offers opinions upon request on the acceptability of processing aid uses of specific chemicals and other substances during food processing. Such requests must be supported by a submission. The Guide for Preparing Food Processing Aid Submissions can be obtained from Health Canada.

The Bureau of Chemical Safety within Health Canada's Food Directorate coordinates the assessment of food processing aid submissions.

Antimicrobial Processing Aids

Health Canada maintains a document called Antimicrobial Food Processing Aid for Red Meat and Poultry Meat for Which Health Canada has Expressed No Objection. This document provides a resource for Canadian meat and poultry processing establishments in particular.

To obtain an electronic copy of Antimicrobial Food Processing Aid for Red Meat and Poultry Meat for Which Health Canada has Expressed No Objection [last updated on March 2, 2022], please contact our publications office or send an e-mail to with the subject heading " hpfb BCS antimicrobial processing aids-eng".

Specific Topics on Chemicals Used in Food Processing

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