Notice of intent to amend the Food and Drug Regulations to restrict the amount of alcohol in single-serve highly sweetened alcoholic beverages

Notice is hereby given that Health Canada intends to amend the Food and Drug Regulations (the Regulations) to restrict the amount of alcohol contained in highly sweetened alcoholic beverages sold in a single-serve (i.e., non-resealable) container. This notice is meant to seek input on this proposal.

Background

Alcohol regulation in Canada is a shared responsibility between federal, provincial and territorial (P/T) governments. Health Canada regulates alcohol as a food under the Food and Drugs Act. Alcohol is subject to requirements specific to ingredients, methods of manufacturing, and labelling (e.g., amount of alcohol, common name).

There is a category of highly sweetened beverages that are high in alcohol, sold in single-serve containers, and marketed in a manner that could be appealing to young people. Some of these products contain as much alcohol as four glasses of wine.

Addressing public health risks associated with these types of beverages requires a combination of measures at the federal and P/T levels. The Government of Quebec has announced proposed legislative changes to ban the sale of mixed malt-based beverages with more than 7% alcohol from private stores (e.g., d├ępanneurs, grocery stores), along with a review of advertising measures to protect minors.

Proposal

Health Canada proposes to amend the Regulations to restrict the amount of alcohol in a single-serve (i.e., non-resealable) container of these highly sweetened alcoholic beverages to reduce the health and safety risks of these types of products. This proposal would affect alcoholic beverages sold in single-serve containers that exceed a certain sweetness threshold (including those that contain artificial sweeteners).

Health Canada is consulting on:

  • the mechanism by which to restrict the amount of alcohol (this could be achieved by limiting the maximum size of the container or by limiting the percentage of alcohol in a single-serve container); and
  • the sweetness threshold that would trigger the restrictions.

This proposal is not intended to capture liqueurs, dessert wines, and other sweet alcoholic beverages sold in re-sealable containers.

Next steps

The Government of Canada will take into consideration all comments received during the public comment period when developing the proposal to amend the Regulations. Pending the feedback received, Health Canada plans to introduce proposed regulations in Canada Gazette in fall 2018.

In the meantime, Health Canada is calling on industry stakeholders to come forward with measures to reduce the risk of these products. Health Canada will also take a leadership role and convene a meeting with P/Ts and key stakeholders to discuss collective measures, including advertising, marketing, and labelling for reducing the risks of these products.

Comments

Interested parties may, by May 8, 2018, provide their comments on this Notice of Intent, in writing, to the Office of Legislative and Regulatory Modernization, Policy, Planning and International Affairs Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Department of Health, Holland Cross, Suite 14, 11 Holland Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0K9. Comments can also be sent by email to hc.lrm.consultations-mlr.sc@canada.ca.

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