Authorized food products

Health Canada has determined, in accordance with its guidance document on "Classification of products at the food-natural health product interface: products in food formats", that certain products sitting at the Food-Natural Health Product (NHP) interface fit the regulatory definition of a food and will be transitioned to the Food Regulatory Framework over a period of time through the issuance of Temporary Marketing Authorization Letters (TMALs).

Transition Criteria

Food products sitting at the Food-NHP interface that are deemed to be safe (i.e., pose no immediate health and safety concern) will be transitioned to the food regulatory framework through the issuance of a TMAL.

For those food products where a category-specific guidance document has been developed, such as for caffeinated energy drinks, transitioning products will have to meet specific compositional requirements, which include conditions on ingredients such as the total level of caffeine from all sources, levels of added vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, novel ingredients, and food additives. For more information, please visit Transition process for foods marketed as Natural Health Products.

Health Canada has recently made available a General Guidance Document for Temporary Marketing Authorization for Foods. The purpose of this guidance document is to help explain when a Temporary Marketing Authorization (TMA) may be granted by Health Canada for a food and how to prepare a complete submission that fulfills TMA requirements.

The department has committed to provide regular updates, additional guidance, and continued engagement of industry to ensure that impacted parties are fully aware of the overall transition process for eligible products at the Food-NHP interface.

Transition of products from the Food-NHP Interface to the Food Regulatory Framework

Foods that will be transitioned fall under the four broad categories listed below. The transition of caffeinated energy drinks was considered as a first step.

  • Prepackaged, ready-to-consume drinks (for example, juices and waters)
  • Conventional foods (for example, yogourt and bars)
  • Granulated and powdered products added to food or drinks (for example, drink mixes and meal replacements)
  • Other products

The Lists of foods that have received Temporary Marketing Authorization Letters provide the most current list of products that have transitioned from the Food-NHP interface to the Food Regulatory Framework through the issuance of TMALs.

Classification criteria

The Classification of products at the food-natural health product interface: products in food formats explains the four basic principles used in determining the classification for products at the interface: product format, public perception and history of use, product representation and product composition. Health Canada has determined, in general, that products at the food-NHP interface embodying the following criteria fit the definition of a food:

  • Product format: These products are packaged in a format typical of foods. Such formats are consistent with the ad libitum consumption of foods.
  • Public perception and history of use: It is Health Canada's position that Canadians tend to perceive and consume these products as foods rather than as therapeutic products because they provide nourishment, nutrition, hydration, satisfaction of hunger/thirst, or desire for taste, texture or flavour irrespective of any associated health claim. This history of consumption, in spite of any specific directions of use, promotes consumer perception that they can be consumed ad libitum.
  • Product representation to consumers: These products have been represented and advertised in a manner that makes them appear as a food: they are found in grocery and convenience stores. Regardless of any specific health claims, they are normally regarded as foods, as part of the regular diet, with the intent to provide nourishment, nutrition, hydration, satisfaction of hunger/thirst, or desire for taste, texture or flavour.
  • Product composition: In general, products containing ingredients which are expected to provide nourishment, nutrition, hydration, satisfaction of hunger/thirst, or desire for taste, texture or flavour support classification as a food.

More specific classification criteria for the three main product categories has been developed:

Prepackaged, ready-to-consume drink products

Health Canada has determined that products which embody the following criteria fit the definition of a food and will therefore be classified as foods:

  • Product format: The product is a drink product that is packaged in a container typical of beverages including, but not limited to: cups, aseptic packaging, drink boxes, bottles, canettes or cans such as those in which soda, bottled water or fruit juices are sold. Such formats are consistent with the ad libitum consumption of beverages. Format is a primary factor in determining classification of this product category.
  • Public perception and history of use: It is Health Canada's position that Canadians tend to perceive and drink products as beverages rather than as NHPs because they are expected to provide nourishment, nutrition, hydration, satisfaction of hunger/thirst, or desire for taste, texture or flavour irrespective of any associated health claim. Drink products, such as sodas, juices, waters, milks and fruit drinks have a long history of being consumed as foods. This history of consumption, regardless of any specific directions of use, promotes consumer perception that they can be consumed ad libitum.
  • Product representation to consumers: "Representation" includes indications of use, claims presented as a word, sentence, a picture, a symbol, a paragraph or an implication on product labels, package inserts or advertisement, placement and location of sale. Drink products that use terms including but not limited to "drink", "beverage", "water", "juice", "punch", "cocktail", "milk" or similar descriptors in the product name, trade name or elsewhere on the product label, and are found in retail food establishments (for example, grocery, convenience stores, etc.), amongst soft drinks, juices and other beverages are typically represented to consumers as foods. Regardless of any specific health claims, they are normally regarded as foods, as part of the regular diet, with the intent to provide nourishment, nutrition, hydration, satisfaction of hunger/thirst, or desire for taste, texture or flavour.
  • Product composition: In general, products containing ingredients which are expected to provide nourishment, nutrition, hydration, satisfaction of hunger/thirst, or desire for taste, texture or flavour support classification as a food. The presence of medicinal ingredients, as defined in the NHPR, in the prepackaged, ready-to-consume drink products is not a primary factor in determining classification.

Conventional foods

Health Canada has determined that products which embody the following criteria fit the definition of a food and will therefore be classified as foods:

  • Product format: Products in conventional food formats including, but not limited to prepackaged or sold-in-bulk products such as whole foods (for example, nuts, seeds, fruits or vegetables), edible oils, spreads, bars, cereals (for example, bran, oat), dairy products (for example, yogurts, cheese), condiments and seasonings (for example, ketchup, salts, syrups, sweeteners), soups, purees, confections see Confectionery products criteria below), and bakery products (for example, breads, crackers). Such formats, and any others that are consistent with ad libitum consumption, are considered conventional food formats. Format is a primary factor in determining classification for this product category.
  • Public perception and history of use: It is Health Canada's position that Canadians tend to perceive and consume prepackaged or sold-in-bulk, conventional food in the formats summarized above as foods rather than as NHPs because they are expected to provide nourishment, nutrition, hydration, satisfaction of hunger/thirst, or desire for taste, texture or flavour irrespective of any associated health claim. Pre packaged or sold-in-bulk sold products such as whole foods, edible oils, spreads, cereals, dairy products, condiments and seasonings, soups, purees, confections and bakery products have a long history of being consumed as foods. This history of consumption, regardless of any specific directions of use, promotes consumer perception that they can be consumed ad libitum.
  • Product representation to consumers: "Representation" includes indications of use, claims presented as a word, sentence, a picture, a symbol, a paragraph or an implication on product labels, package inserts or advertisement, and placement and location of sale. Pre-packaged or sold-in-bulk products that use terms, including but not limited to, "meal replacement", "yogurt", "bar", "cereal", or "candy" in the product name, trade name or elsewhere on the product label; and are found in retail food establishments (for example, grocery, convenience stores, etc.) amongst other conventional foods are typically represented to consumers as foods. Regardless of any specific health claims, they are normally regarded as foods, as part of the regular diet, with the intent to provide nourishment, nutrition, hydration, satisfaction of hunger/thirst, or desire for taste, texture or flavour. The presence of a health claim is not always a distinguishing factor for classification but the product's specific or implied representation for a health benefit within the context of the diet supports the classification of the product as a food.
  • Product composition: In general, products containing ingredients which are expected to provide nourishment, nutrition, hydration, satisfaction of hunger/thirst, or desire for taste, texture or flavour support classification as a food. The presence of medicinal ingredients as defined in the NHPR, in the prepackaged or sold-in-bulk product is not a primary factor in determining classification.

Conventional foods - Confectionery products

Health Canada has determined that confectionery products, which embody the following criteria and are represented as a conventional food, fit the definition of a food and will therefore be classified as foods:

  • Product format: Confectionery products are typically sold in bulk, tearable or resealable packages or are individually wrapped, and may be sold in single-serving or multi-serving packages. Products in confectionery food format include, but are not limited to: hard/soft/semi-soft candy (for example, sticks, lollipops), chocolates, chocolate bars, cookies, jellies, chews and gummies, gum, mints, fondants, glazes, syrups, wafers, fudges, toffee/taffy and caramels, frozen desserts, liquid or foam sprays, dissolvable strips and powders, and any other formats that may be consistent with ad libitum consumption as foods. Note that products sold in child-resistant packaging would generally not support classification as foods.
  • Public perception and history of use: It is Health Canada's position that Canadians perceive and consume confectionery products as foods. Confectionery products have a long history of being consumed as foods. This history of consumption, regardless of any specific directions of use, promotes the public perception that they can be consumed ad libitum.
  • Product representation to consumers: Product representation is considered an important factor for classification decisions for this category. "Representation" includes indications of use, claims presented as a word, sentence, a picture, a symbol, a paragraph or an implication on product labels, package inserts or advertisement, and placement and location of sale. Confectionery products that use terms such as, but not limited to, "candy", "snack", "sweets", "treat" and "refreshing"; feature flavour prominently on the label; are represented as part of the regular diet; or are marketed in retail establishments among conventional foods are typically represented to consumers as foods. These products are typically marketed to the general public and may be targeted specifically to children. These products are normally regarded as foods, with the intent to provide satisfaction of hunger/thirst, or desire for taste, texture or flavour. The product's specific or implied representation for a health benefit within the context of the diet supports classification of the product as a food. Products containing terms including, but not limited to: "lozenges", "cough/throat drops" or "cough tablets" would not support classification as foods.
  • Product composition: All ingredients contained in a confectionery product should be considered when making a product classification decision, but composition is not a primary factor for product classification decisions. Confectionery products may contain ingredients such as, but not limited to, sugar and/or other sweetening agents, flavouring and/or colouring agents, vitamins and minerals.

Granulated and powdered products

Determining the classification of products in granulated or powder formats in a fair and consistent manner is particularly challenging since these formats are consistent with both foods and natural health products. As an example, body building products in powdered formats are classified as NHPs. These products are represented to consumers as NHPs and consumers recognize that they are not to be consumed in an ad libitum manner, but according to the recommended directions of use. Drink mixes, although also in a powder format, have a history of use as foods, are typically represented to consumers as foods and are perceived by consumers as beverages consistent with ad libitum consumption. Health Canada has determined that "granulated and powdered products" embodying the following criteria fit the definition of a food and will therefore be classified as foods:

  • Product format: Since both granulated and powder formats are consistent with classification both as foods and as NHPs, format is not a primary factor for classification. Characteristics of format which are supportive of a classification as food include, but are not limited to: bulk powders, resealable packaging, sachets, or any other formats consistent with the ad libitum consumption as foods.
  • Public perception and history of use: It is Health Canada's position that Canadians perceive and consume granulated and powdered products as foods when they contain conventional food ingredients and are mixed with or added to food. Consumers perceive these products as foods rather than as NHPs because they are expected to provide nourishment, nutrition, hydration, satisfaction of hunger/thirst, or desire for taste, texture or flavour irrespective of any associated health claim. The majority of the ingredients contained in these products have a long history of being consumed as foods. This history of consumption, regardless of any specific directions of use, promotes the public perception that they can be consumed ad libitum.
  • Product representation to consumers: "Representation" includes indications of use, claims presented as a word, sentence, a picture, a symbol, a paragraph or an implication on product labels, package inserts or advertisement, placement and location of sale. Granulated and powdered products that use terms such as, "meal replacement", "food", "energy", "shake", "drink", "beverage", "juice", "cocktail"; feature flavour prominently on the label; are represented as part of a diet; or are marketed in retail food establishments among conventional foods are typically represented to consumers as foods. Regardless of any specific health claims, they are normally regarded as foods, as part of the regular diet, with the intent to provide nourishment, nutrition, hydration, satisfaction of hunger/thirst, or desire for taste, texture or flavour. The presence of a health claim is not always a distinguishing factor for classification but the product's specific or implied representation for a health benefit within the context of the diet supports the classification of the product as a food.
  • Product composition: All ingredients contained in a granulated or powdered product should be considered when making a product classification decision but composition is not a primary factor for product classification decisions. Products intended for classification as food are those in which the ingredients are expected to provide nourishment, nutrition, hydration, satisfaction of hunger/thirst, or desire for taste, texture or flavour regardless of any associated health claim.

Granulated and powdered products - Beverage mix food products

Health Canada has determined that beverage mix products sold in formats including, but not limited to, granules, powder, syrup, tea or gels, and which are intended to be reconstituted for consumption as a beverage and which embody the following criteria, fit the definition of a food and will therefore be classified as foods:

  • Product format: Since beverage products in granulated, powder, syrup, tea or gel formats are consistent with classification both as foods and as NHPs, format is not a primary factor for classification. Characteristics of format which are supportive of a classification as food include, but are not limited to: resealable packaging, sachets, pouches, sticks/tubes or any other formats that are consistent with the ad libitum consumption as foods.
  • Public perception and history of use: It is Health Canada's position that Canadians perceive and consume beverage mix products as foods. Consumers perceive these products as foods rather than as NHPs because they are expected to provide nourishment, nutrition, hydration, satisfaction of hunger/thirst, or desire for taste, texture or flavour regardless of any associated health claim. Beverage mixes have a long history of being consumed as foods. This history of consumption, regardless of any specific directions of use, promotes the public perception that these products can be consumed ad libitum.
  • Product representation to consumers: Representation is considered a primary factor for product classification decisions for this category. "Representation" includes indications of use, claims presented as a word, sentence, a picture, a symbol, a paragraph or an implication on product labels, package inserts or advertisement, placement and location of sale. Beverage mix products that use terms such as, but not limited to, "meal replacement", "food", "energy", "energy drink", "snack", "drink/drink mix", "beverage", "cocktail/cocktail mix", "juice/juice mix"; feature flavour prominently on the label; or are marketed in retail establishments among conventional foods are typically represented to consumers as foods. These products are normally regarded as foods, as part of the regular diet and/or as part of a specialized diet (for example, weight reduction diet by means of caloric reduction), with the intent to provide nourishment, nutrition, hydration, satisfaction of hunger/thirst, or desire for taste, texture or flavour. The presence of a health claim is not always a distinguishing factor for classification but the product's specific or implied representation for a health benefit within the context of the diet supports classification of the product as a food.
  • Product composition: All ingredients contained in a beverage mix product should be considered when making a product classification decision but composition is not a primary factor for product classification decisions. Beverage mixes may contain ingredients such as, but not limited to, caffeine, sweetening agents, fruit/vegetable concentrates, vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

Granulated and powdered products - Natural Health Products

Health Canada has determined that products in powder, granulated, tea or gel formats which are not represented as a beverage and are not conventional foods, and which embody the following criteria, fit the definition of an NHP and will therefore be classified as NHPs:

  • Product format: Since granulated, powder and gel formats are consistent with classification both as foods and as NHPs, format is not a primary factor for classification. Characteristics of format which are supportive of a classification as NHPs include, but are not limited to: security features and packaging that includes measuring devices.
  • Public perception and history of use: It is Health Canada's position that Canadians perceive and consume certain powdered, granulated or gel products as NHPs instead of foods because they have not been typically sold amongst conventional foods in retail establishments. These products are typically marketed under specific conditions of use, for example, to a specific sub-population, for a specific purpose and with specific directions of use. Although these products may be a source of macronutrients and may provide nourishment, nutrition, hydration, satisfaction of hunger, thirst, or desire for taste, texture or flavour, the history of consumption suggests that these products are used as supplements to the diet, and that consumers recognize that these products are not consumed in an ad libitum manner, but according to the recommended conditions of use.
  • Product representation to consumers: Representation is considered a primary factor for product classification decisions for this category. "Representation" includes indications of use, claims presented as a word, sentence, a picture, a symbol, a paragraph or an implication on product labels, package inserts or advertisement, placement and location of sale. Powdered, granulated, tea or gel products that use terms such as, but not limited to, "multi-vitamin", "multi-mineral", "detox", "resistance training", "muscle gains", "muscle building", "mass building" and "increased protein synthesis", that include pictures that depict the above terms, and are marketed in retail establishments among other supplements to specific sub-populations, are typically represented to consumers as NHPs. The presence of a health claim is not always a distinguishing factor for classification but the product's specific or implied representation for a health benefit outside the context of the diet (for example, supplemental to the diet) or the use of a traditional claim supports classification of the product as an NHP.
  • Product composition: All ingredients contained in a powdered, granulated, tea or gel product should be considered when making a product classification decision but composition is not a primary factor for product classification decisions. These types of products may contain ingredients such as, but not limited to, vitamins and minerals, protein or protein isolates (for example, whey, soy, rice proteins), amino acids, carbohydrates, fatty acids, herbs, fibre, caffeine and other stimulants, sweetening agents, fruit/vegetable concentrates or extracts.

Related information

Contact us:
Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: