December 16 2016

Coming changes for food labelling

Deschênes-Hébert Sophie

This article was writen by Ms. Caroline Jonnaert and Ms. Sophie Deschênes-Hébert

On December 14, Health Canada announced changes to the Food and Drug Regulations regarding the requirements applicable to the nutrition fact table, the list of ingredients and food colours.

According to the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, these modifications will allow Canadians to more easily understand and use the nutrition fact table and list of ingredients on packaged foods.

Starting December 14, 2016, the food industry has five years to comply with the new requirements. During this transitional period, manufacturers have to choose between the old and new requirements. In other words, they cannot choose to comply partially to either set of requirements.

This 5-year period is necessary to give the industry the time necessary to comply with the new requirements and take into account the other regulatory changes expected under the Food Labelling Modernization Initiative of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The CFIA started this modernization initiative back in 2013 to develop a modern and innovative labelling system for food sold in Canada. The new system will also align with international standards.

This month, the CFIA launched the third phase of the public consultations on the modernization of food labelling in Canada. It has made publicly available a discussion paper that was drafted after the first two phases. The document describes the proposed changes with regard to food labelling:

  • Date markings for “Best Before” and “Expiration Date”;
  • Requirements for legibility and placement of information that appears on labels;
  • Requirements regarding dealer identification information;
  • Identification of origin of imported foods;
  • Requirements for ingredients highlighted with claims or images and percentage ingredient declaration;
  • Review and alignment of class names used to identify groups of similar ingredients, such as “vegetable oil”, “flavour” and “milk ingredients”; and
  • Modernization, alignment and incorporation by reference to selected food compositional standards and modified standardized common names.

The public has until February 28, 2017 to submit comments. After the consultation process ends, the CFIA will issue recommendations that may lead to regulatory amendments. Any regulatory amendments will have to follow the standard process through the Canada Gazette and may be discussed in further consultations. We will continue to follow the situation.

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Deschênes-Hébert Sophie
Sophie Deschênes-Hébert
Ms. Deschênes-Hébert advises advertisers and advertising agencies for their campaigns.
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