Food and Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards

An Expert's View about Food , Beverages and Tobacco in Canada

Posted on: 30 Sep 2012

Since April 1997, all federally mandated food inspection and quarantine services for domestic and imported foods were consolidated into the CFIA.

THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT POLICY Required Report - public distribution Date: 7/27/2012 GAIN Report Number: CA12030 Canada Food and Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards - Narrative FAIRS Country Report Approved By: Robin Gray Prepared By: Brent Evans Report Highlights: In 2012, the primary area in which there has been a significant regulatory change is allergen labeling. However, it is worthwhile to note that there are new updates and changes via the Regulatory Cooperation Committee (RCC), the Beyond the Border Initiative (BtB), and upcoming food safety legislation on the horizon. Section I. Food Laws: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Since April 1997, all federally mandated food inspection and quarantine services for domestic and imported foods were consolidated into the CFIA. As a result, food inspection and quarantine services previously provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Health Canada, Industry Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada are integrated under the CFIA. The responsibility of food safety policy and risk assessment remains with Health Canada. The following are brief descriptions of Canadian legislation that applies to imports. Readers should note that while the official Acts are the enabling legislation, it is the associated regulations that contain detailed requirements pertaining to imports. Full texts of Canada's Laws are available at Canada Agricultural Products (CAP) Act and Associated Regulations The CAP Act and associated regulations are designed to set national standards and grades for agricultural products and to regulate the marketing of agricultural products in import, export, and interprovincial trade. They provide for the licensing of dealers in agricultural products; the inspection, grading, labeling, and packaging (including standardized sizes) of regulated products. The following regulations fall under the CAP Act: Dairy Products Regulations Egg Regulations Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations Honey Regulations Licensing and Arbitration Regulations Maple Products Regulations Processed Egg Regulations Processed Products Regulations Livestock & Poultry Carcass Grading Regulations Organic Product Regulations Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act The Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act provides for the uniform labeling of consumer packaged goods for sale at the retail level. The Regulations prescribe requirements for bilingual labeling, metric net quantity declarations and for the size and location of mandatory labeling information. Currently these Regulations also prescribe standardized sizes for some butter, and wine, but there is an interest among Canadian regulators to bring these products under the CAP Act. Customs Act The Customs Act provides the legislative authority for Customs inspectors to detain goods that may be in contravention of the Customs Act or any other act or regulation that prohibits controls or regulates the importation or exportation of goods. Export and Import Permits Act The authority to control the importation and exportation of commodities and technologies is derived from this Act. The Export and Import Permits Act provides for the establishment of a series of lists known as the Import Control List (ICL), the Export Control List (ECL), the Automatic Firearms Country Control List (AFCCL), and the Area Control List (ACL). For each one of these lists, the Act sets out criteria that govern the inclusion of goods or countries on the respective lists. By issuing import and export permits, government controls the flow of goods named on these lists, and export/import to specific destinations. The Export and Import Permits Act provides the Minister of Foreign Affairs with the authority to allocate quotas to Canadian firms. Once quotas are allocated, import permits will be issued to quota holders up to their quota level as long as the terms and conditions of the permit are met. Canada’s tariff rate quotas on certain agricultural products are administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and Revenue Canada. See also, Section VI, Tariff Rate Quotas. Fish Inspection Act The Fish Inspection Act and Regulations establish composition, quality, labeling and packaging requirements for fish and fish products traded internationally and interprovincially. Fisheries Act The Fish Health Regulations under the Fisheries Act are designed to prevent the spread of infectious fish diseases, both by inspecting production sources of fish stocks, and by controlling the movements of infected fish stocks. They apply to live and dead cultured fish and eggs (including any fertilized or unfertilized sex products) of cultured and wild fish. These regulations apply to certain types of fish from the family Salmonidae. Food and Drugs Act The Food and Drugs Act is a consumer protection statute dealing with food, drugs, cosmetics and medical devices. It establishes minimum health and safety requirements, as well as provisions preventing fraud and deception for all food sold in Canada. The Regulations contain food labeling requirements and standards of identity, composition, strength, potency, purity, quality or other properties for several classes of foods. Health of Animals Act The purpose of the Health of Animals Act and Regulations is to prevent the introduction of animal diseases into Canada. The Health of Animals Act and Regulations regulate international trade in live animals, animal products and by products, animal feeds, veterinary biologics and biotechnology products. They provide for the approval and registration of private quarantine premises and establishments involved in the importation of animals, animal products and veterinary biologics. They also set standards of construction, operation and maintenance for these facilities and establishments. Meat Inspection Act The Meat Inspection Act and Regulations regulate international and interprovincial trade in meat and meat products. They provide for the registration of establishments involved in the slaughter, processing or packaging of products traded internationally or interprovincially. Regulations also set standards of construction, operation and maintenance for registered establishments. Plant Protection Act The Plant Protection Act and Regulations provide the legislative authority to prevent the importation, exportation and spread of pests injurious to plants. The purpose of the Act is to protect plant life and the agricultural and forestry sectors. Plants and plant products, including certain fresh fruits and vegetables, are subject to plant protection import requirements. The requirements vary according to the degree of risk the product poses. Some goods are prohibited entry into Canada; others require an import permit issued by the CFIA and/or a Phytosanitary Certificate issued by exporting country. Weights and Measures Act The Weights and Measures Act establishes net quantity requirements for products sold on the basis of measure and sets out the criteria to be used for determining commodity compliance to those requirements. The Weights and Measures Act does not apply to products subject to net quantity requirements set out in other federal legislation, and therefore does not apply to food packaged for direct sale to the consumer which are covered under the Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act. The Weights and Measures Act, however, does apply to foods in shipping containers destined for commercial or industrial enterprises or institutions, products shipped in bulk, and clerk served foods at retail. Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act The Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act is the implementing legislation for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Canada. It regulates the international movement of CITES listed species and their derivatives through a permit system. It allows the prosecution in Canada of importers who violate wildlife conservation legislation in foreign Countries, and permits Canada to restrict the importation of wildlife designated as harmful to Canadian ecosystems. Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act The Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act establishes a system of administrative monetary penalties for the enforcement of the following acts: the CAP Act, the Feeds Act, the Fertilizers Act, the Health of Animals Act, the Meat Inspection Act, the Plant Protection Act, and the Seeds Act. The Monetary Penalties Act authorizes monetary penalties on violators of Canadian regulations. Other Acts Feeds Act Fertilizers Act Plant Breeders‟ Rights Act Seeds Act Trade Marks Act Websites: Canadian Food Inspection Agency Health Canada Food and Drugs Act Section II. Labeling Requirements: General Requirements The basic packaging and labeling requirements necessary for U.S. agricultural exports to Canada are: Labels in English and French Net quantities expressed in metric units List of ingredients, (including food allergens) Durable life date (if shelf life 90 days or less) Common name of product Name and address of Manufacturer /Canadian Dealer, noted "imported for/importé pour" Nutrition Facts Table in accordance with the Canadian format Starting August 2012, declaration of food allergens on pre-packaged foods Follow minimum type size specifications Conformity to standardized package sizes stipulated in the regulations Country of origin labeling on shipping container Although the Universal Product Code (UPC) or bar code is not required or administered by government, virtually all retailers require products to be labelled with a UPC. The Guide to Food Labeling and Advertising in Canada The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has prepared a Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising that details the regulatory requirements for selling packaged foods and beverages in Canada. The CFIA has the authority to refuse entry, detain, return, or remove from retail shelves any imported processed food product that does not meet the federal food labeling requirements. The CFIA Guide includes information on: Basic labeling requirements * Advertising requirements Claims as to the composition, quality, quantity and origin of foods Nutrition labeling * Nutrient content claims * Health-related claims * New regulations on food allergens * Other product specific requirements for alcoholic beverages, processed fruits and vegetables, honey, meat and poultry, fish and supplementary products* *Regulations differ from the United States and require adherence for retail sales in Canada. The full guide is available on the CFIA website at: Food Labeling Information Service The CFIA consolidates federal food label review under their Labeling Information Service. The labeling service is designed for new entrants into the marketplace who are not familiar with the Canadian regulatory system. This service is available at specified regional CFIA locations across Canada. These offices coordinate the requirements of the aforementioned federal departments to simplify product approval and label compliance. U.S. exporters are advised to contact the closest regional office as listed in the link below with further questions: Note: Label registration is required for all processed meat products under the Meat Inspection Act and Regulations. All U.S. exporters are urged to complete the form below and provide along with the appropriate copies of the label and formulation and the specified fee. Request for Registration of Labels, Markings and Containers: Clerk- Label and Recipe Registration 1431 Merivale Road Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0Y9, Third Floor Ottawa, Ontario K1A OY9 Email. CFIA will review a limited number of non-mandatory labels per company. A U.S. exporter may receive information about submitting their request by contacting 1-800-667-2657 or email the draft label to Canadian Food Inspection Agency Food Labeling Information Service Offices: National Headquarters 1431 Merivale Road Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0Y9 Tel: 1-800-442-2342 or (613) 225-2342 Fax: (613) 228-6601 Atlantic Provinces New Brunswick Newfoundland and Labrador 850 Lincoln Road, P.O. Box 2222 Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 5G4 P.O. Box 5667 Tel: (506) 452-4964 St. John's, Newfoundland A1C 5X1 Fax: (506) 452-3923 Tel: (709) 772-8912 Fax: (709) 772-5100 Nova Scotia Prince Edward Island 1992 Agency Drive 690 University Ave Dartmouth, Nova Scotia B2Y 1Y9 Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island C1E 1E3 Tel: (902) 426-2110 Tel: (902) 566-7290 Fax: (902) 426-4844 Fax: (902) 566-7334 Ontario Province Northeast Region Central Region Auriga Drive, Unit 8 709 Main Street West Ottawa, Ontario K2E 8A5 Hamilton, Ontario L8S 1A2 Tel: (613) 274-7374 Tel: (905) 572-2201 Fax: (613) 274-7380 Fax: (905) 572-2197 Toronto Region Southwest Region 1124 Finch Avenue West, Unit 2 1200 Commissioners Rd E, # 19 Downsview, Ontario M3J 2E2 London, Ontario N5Z 4R3 Tel. (416) 665-5055 Tel: (519) 691-1300 Fax (416) 665-5069 Fax: (519) 691-0148 145 Renfrew Drive, Unit 160 Markham, Ontario L3R 9R6 Tel: (905) 513-5977 Fax: (905) 513-5971 Québec Province Montréal East Québec Carillon Place II Place Iberville IV 7101 Jean-Talon St E, Suite 600 2954, Laurier Blvd, suite 100 Anjou, Québec H1M 3N7 Ste-Foy (Québec) G1V 5C7 Tel: (514) 493-8859 Tel: (418) 648-7373 Fax: (514) 493-9965 Fax: (418) 648-4792 Montreal West St-Hyacinthe 2021 Union Street, Room 1450 3100 Laframoise Boulevard, Room 206 Montreal, Québec H3A 2S9 St-Hyacinthe, Quebec J2S 4Z4 Tel: (514) 283-8982 Tel : (450) 773-6639 Fax: (514) 283-1855 Fax : (450) 774-8522 Western Provinces Alberta - Calgary Alberta - Edmonton (includes NWT and Nunavut) 110 County Hills Landing NW, Suite 202 7000 - 113 St, Room 205 Calgary, Alberta T3K 5P3 Edmonton, Alberta T6H 5T6 Tel: (403) 292-4650 Tel: (780) 495-3333 Fax: (403) 292-5692 Fax: (780) 495-3359 British Columbia - Coastal Region 4321 Still Creek Dr., Suite 400 4475 Viewmont Avenue, Suite 103 Burnaby, British Columbia V5C 6S7 Victoria, British Columbia V8Z 6L8 Tel: (604) 666-6513 Tel: (250) 363-3455 Fax: (604) 666-1261 Fax: (250) 363-0366 BC Mainland/Interior Region (includes Yukon) 1853 Bredin Road Kelowna, British Columbia V1Y 7S9 Tel: (250) 470-4884 Fax: (250) 470-4899 Manitoba Saskatchewan 269 Main St., Room 613 421 Downey Road, Room 301 Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 1B2 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 4L8 Tel: (204) 983-2220 Tel: (306) 975-8904 Fax: (204) 984-6008 Fax: (306) 975-4339 Bilingual Labeling Requirements All mandatory information on food labels must be shown in both official languages, i.e., French and English, with one exception: The identity and principal place of business of the person by or for whom the prepackaged product was manufactured, processed, produced or packaged for resale, may be in either English or French. The province of Quebec has additional requirements concerning the use of the French language on all products marketed within its jurisdiction. Information on these requirements can be obtained from: Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec 200-A Chemin Sainte-Foy Québec, Québec G1R 4X6 Tel. (418) 643-2500 Fax (418) 644-3049 Quebec French language labeling information can also be found at the Website of l'Office de la langue française: Labeling of Shipping Containers Labels of shipping containers used for industrial or institutional use are exempt from bilingual labeling requirements. The outside of the container requires a product description, the name and address of the U.S. company and a net quantity declaration in either metric or imperial units (under the Weights and Measures Act). If the food inside the container(s) is not for sale directly to consumers (e.g., foodservice, etc.), that label may also be in either French or English, but all other mandatory label information, such as the list of ingredients, is required to be shown. Nutrition Labeling On December 12, 2007, Canada’s mandatory nutrition labeling regulations for prepackaged foods came into effect. The U.S. nutrition panel is not permitted on the labels of foods sold in Canada. All U.S. prepackaged food product exporters are advised to review the Canadian nutrition labeling regulations and to bring their packaging into compliance to avoid entry refusals at the border or product detention. Nutrition labeling policy is set by Health Canada while the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is responsible for enforcement. The nutrition labeling toolkit website is located at: Example of U.S. Nutrition Label Example of Canadian Nutrition Label Source: CRFA, Imported Food and Manufactured Food Labeling Exemptions Some prepackaged foods are exempt from mandatory nutrition labeling. The following products are exempt from displaying a nutrition facts table (excerpt from the 2011 CFIA Guide to Food Labeling and Advertising, Chapter 5, Section 5.3): a) foods, such as spices and some bottled waters, for which all the nutritional information (other than serving of stated size) set out in column 1 of the table to B.01.401 may be expressed as "0"; b) beverages with an alcohol content of more than 0.5 percent; c) fresh vegetables and fruits without added ingredients, oranges with color, and fruit and vegetables coated with paraffin wax or petrolatum; This category includes fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, thyme, etc. (but not dried herbs); sprouts; and fruits and vegetables that are minimally processed (e.g., washed, peeled, cut-up, shredded, etc.), including mixtures of fruits and vegetables, such as bagged mixed salad and coleslaw (without dressing, croutons, bacon bits, etc.). NOTE: The exemption is lost if any health claim set out in the table following B.01.603 is made, including the following: "A healthy diet rich in a variety of vegetables and fruit may help reduce the risk of some types of cancer," [B.01.401 (3)(e)(ii), and item 4 of the table following B.01.603]. d) raw, single ingredient meat, meat by-product, poultry meat, and poultry meat by-product; NOTE: Prepackaged ground meat, ground meat by-product, ground poultry meat and ground poultry meat by-product must always carry a Nutrition Facts table [B.01.401(3)(d)]. e) raw, single ingredient marine or freshwater animal products (such as fish, crustaceans, etc.); f) foods sold only in the retail establishment where the product is prepared and processed, including products made from a pre-mix when an ingredient other than water is added to the pre-mix; NOTE: A Nutrition Facts table is required when only water is added to a pre-mix or when a product is only baked, cooked, etc. on the premises without the addition of other ingredients. g) foods sold only at a roadside stand, craft show, flea market, fair, farmers' market and sugar bush by the individual who prepared and processed the product; h) individual servings of foods that are sold for immediate consumption (e.g., sandwiches or ready-made salads), when these have not been subjected to a process or special packaging, such as modified atmosphere packaging, to extend their durable life; i) foods sold only in the retail establishment where the product is packaged, if the product is labeled by means of a sticker and has an Available Display Surface less than 200 cm2; j) prepackaged confections, commonly known as one-bite confections, that are sold individually (e.g., small individually wrapped candies, mints, etc.); k) prepackaged individual portions of food that are solely intended to be served by a restaurant or other commercial enterprise with meals or snacks (e.g., crackers, creamers, etc.); and l) a variety of cow and goat milk products sold in refillable glass containers. Losing the Exemption Excerpt from the 2011 Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising, Section 5.3.1: The last three items listed above (a one-bite confection, an individual portion served with meals, milk in glass containers) never lose their exemption. The remaining items listed above lose their exempt status and are required to carry a Nutrition Facts table when: A vitamin or mineral nutrient is added to the product; A vitamin or mineral nutrient is declared as a component of an ingredient (other than flour); Aspartame, sucralose, or acesulfame-potassium is added to the product; The product is ground meat, ground meat by-product, ground poultry meat or ground poultry meat by-product; or The label or advertisement contains one or more of the following: o A nutritional reference or nutrient content claim, o A biological role claim, o A health claim, o A health-related name, statement, logo, symbol, seal of approval or other proprietary mark of a third party, or o The phrase "nutrition facts", "valeur nutritive" or "valeurs nutritives". Allergen Labeling Regulations on Pre-packaged Foods Health Canada has added gluten sources, mustard, and sulphites to the list of Priority Food Allergens list (see table below). As of August 4, 2012, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CRFA) and Health Canada will require most pre-packaged products containing these allergenic ingredients be noted on the label in a form of list or in a statement such as “Allergy and Intolerance Information”; Contains (name the allergen). The new regulations also require manufacturers to use common names, for example spelt and kamut are to be declared as wheat for allergen labeling purposes. Products must list any components of an ingredient that are food allergens, gluten sources, or sulphites (when 10 ppm or more). The July 13, 2012 reminder of the approaching deadline can be found at: storage/information/notice-to-industry-20120713/eng/1342147908053/1342147983364. Health Canada provides the following reference guidance to food companies: Food Allergen Labelling Guidance for Industry To help the food industry ensure the safety of food products for consumers with food allergies, and to prevent the need for costly recalls, the CFIA suggests food companies establish effective allergen controls to minimize the potential for allergic reactions . CFIA provides the following checklist for food manufacturers to help mitigate these risks. The list can be found at: Allergen Check List for Food Suppliers and Manufacturers Priority Food Allergens Peanut or its derivatives, e.g., Peanut - pieces, protein, oil, butter, flour, and mandelona nuts (an almond flavoured peanut product) etc. Peanut may also be known as ground nut. Tree Nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts(filberts), macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts (pinyon, pinon), pistachios and walnuts or their derivatives, e.g., nut butters and oils etc. Sesame or its derivatives, e.g., paste and oil etc. Milk or its derivatives, e.g., milk caseinate, whey and yogurt powder etc. Eggs or its derivatives, e.g., frozen yolk, egg white powder and egg protein isolates etc. Fish or its derivatives, e.g., fish protein, oil and extracts etc. Crustaceans (including crab, crayfish, lobster, prawn and shrimp) and Shellfish (including snails, clams, mussels, oysters, cockle and scallops) or their derivative, e.g., extracts etc. Soy or its derivatives, e.g., lecithin, oil, tofu and protein isolates etc Wheat, triticale or their derivatives, e.g., flour, starches and brans etc. Includes other wheat varieties such as spelt, durum, kamut, emmer etc. Mustard or its derivatives, e.g., mustard seeds, mustard flour, ground mustard, prepared mustard etc. Sulphites, e.g., sulphur dioxide and sodium metabisulphites etc. Section III. Packaging and Container Regulations: Canadian regulations governing package sizes for fruits and vegetables, processed horticultural products and processed meats stipulate standardized package sizes that may differ from U.S. sizes. The standards of identity and the container sizes are generally stipulated in the regulations encompassing agriculture and food products. Electronic access to all Canadian food-related regulations is available through: Note that in April 2012, CFIA announced on its website that “…the CFIA will be removing regulations that restrict the sizes of containers for food,” but details have not been finalized. Updates may be found at: tool/eng/1334084456060/1334084643798. Container Sizes: Honey Imported honey without added flavors must meet specific grades and standards. All honey must be sold in standard container sizes in specific net quantities and are outlined under the Honey Regulations. The regulations are available under CRFA’s Canadian Import, Export and Interprovincial Requirements for Honey: Container Sizes: Processed Horticultural Products Imported processed horticultural products are subject to the requirements of Canada’s Processed Products Regulations. These regulations stipulate the standards and grades for processed fruits and vegetables. The maximum container size permitted for importation is 20 kg or 20 liters. Beyond these sizes, Canadian rules require a ministerial exemption, or bulk waiver of standardized package. The Processed Product Regulations are available for viewing at the following Justice Department website: Container Sizes: Fresh Fruit and Vegetables CFIA specifies container sizes for certain regulated produce commodities in Canada which may not be marketed in a container larger than 50 kg net weight, except for apples where the maximum container size is 200 kg. These requirements can be reviewed at: General Packaging and Labelling Requirements for Fresh Fruit and Vegetables: Please see other requirement for grading, licenses and waivers under Section VI. Other Regulations and Requirements/Requirements for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. Container Sizes: Processed Meats Canada’s Meat & Poultry Inspection Regulations stipulate the standard package size requirements for processed meat and poultry products such as bacon, sausages, sliced meats and wieners. Common U.S. package sizes for these products are different from Canadian standardized sizes. For example, sliced bacon cannot be sold in a 1 lb. package in Canada. It is mostly sold in 500 g packages, one of the standardized sizes in the regulations. Schedule II of the Meat Inspection Regulations lists all the acceptable package sizes for processed meats. It can be viewed on the Department of Justice website at: Section IV. Food Additives Regulations: Canada’s Food and Drugs Act and Regulations strictly control the use of food additives. Most foods approved for sale in the United States comply with Canadian additive regulations, but differences can occur at the permissible levels and in the use of food colorings and food preservatives. The food additive tables in Division 16 of the Food and Drug Regulations prescribe which additives are permitted in Canada, and those that can be added to food and their allowable levels. Products containing restricted food additives may be refused entry into Canada. Canada’s Food and Drugs Act and Regulations are available on the Internet at: Food and Drug Regulations, Division 16 B. 16.001 Food Additive Dictionary Health Canada will review. They are to be submitted to Health Canada either by email or mail, along with the food additive submission checklist. For further information please visit: http://www.hc- Canadian regulations on food flavoring are not comprehensive. Health Canada officials approve flavorings and/or ‘new’ food additives upon request, on a case by case basis only. Health Canada requires manufacturers to submit a formal request describing the intended use and levels of flavorings not specified in the regulations. This must be supplied together with information relating to the estimated intake of the flavoring by the consumer under normal consumption patterns. Submission and specific questions relating to ingredients, food additives, and chemical residue limits may be directed to: Bureau of Chemical Safety, Food Directorate Health Products and Food Branch Health Canada 251 Sir Frederick Banting Driveway, Tunney's Pasture Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K9 Tel. 613-957-0973 Email: Website: Food Additive Submission Checklist: Section V. Pesticides and Other Contaminants: Some agricultural chemicals approved for use in the United States are not registered in Canada. As a result, these pesticides are deemed to have a zero tolerance in Canada and imported foods which contain unregistered pesticide residues above 0.1 parts per million are deemed to be adulterated under Section B.15.002(1) of Canada's Food and Drug Regulations. The goods are subject to detention, destruction, or return. Canada is currently reviewing its policy of the 0.1 ppm default level. A discussion document issued by Health Canada on this policy review is available at: Health Canada’s Health Protection Branch sets maximum reside limits (MRL) for pesticides. A full listing of Canadian MRLs is available on the Pest Management Regulatory Agency’s (PMRA) website at: The PMRA is also responsible for pesticide registration. The address is: Pest Management Regulatory Agency Health Canada 2720 Riverside Drive Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K9 Telephone: (613) 736-3799 Section VI. Other Regulations and Requirements: Summary of Most Recent Regulatory Initiatives Other Label Changes – Sodium Diacetate In 2008, Health Canada issued an interim marketing authorization as amendment to the Food and Drug Regulations to permit the use of sodium diacetate and sodium acetate as preservatives in standardized and unstandardized preparations of meat, meat by-products, poultry meat, poultry meat by-products, prepared and preserved fish products, at a maximum level of use of 0.25 percent of final product weight. On December 1, 2011, the Food and Drug Regulations were amended to include a section regarding permission of such use for sodium diacetate and sodium acetate. The December 1, 2011 Regulations amending the Food and Drug Regulations may be found at: Mandatory Records Keeping for the Equine Industry Effective July 31, 2010, it became mandatory for all Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) inspected facilities in Canada engaged in equine slaughter for edible purposes to have complete records for all animals (domestic and imported) presented for slaughter. These records include unique identification for each animal, a record of illness and a record of medical treatments administered to the animal for the six-month period preceding slaughter. A template entitled "Equine Information Document" (EID) shall be used by equine owners to provide the required information for individual equine animals. A completed individual animal EID contains a standardized description of the animal, as well as a comprehensive record of the equine's medical treatment for at least the preceding six months. The various options for identification, including visual and written descriptions, are listed in the EID. The EID is intended to accompany the equine, at the time of ownership transfer, to the buyer of the animal. The EID requires a signed declaration by the owner of the equine as to the accuracy of the information recorded in the EID. For more information about this regulation, including an EID template and the list of drugs that are prohibited or allowed for use in equine slaughtered for food, please visit the link below: Meat Packaging Registration The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is collaborating with Health Canada to review the current regulatory scheme for the pre-market assessment and registration of meat packaging components used by federally registered establishments. This regulation is applicable only to domestically packaged meat products. The requirement was identified by the Canadian meat industry as an unnecessary regulatory burden that puts Canadian companies at a competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis imported goods. Arguments have been made that the requirement has led to unnecessary delays in bringing new meat packaging products to market in Canada. The requirement for mandatory registration of packaging does not apply to other suppliers to the grocery sector, such as bakery goods, dairy products, cereals and spices. In Canada, food manufacturers are responsible for the safety of the products they use to package their products. A voluntary review of packaging is available from Health Canada and the extra registration requirement by CFIA is perceived by some in industry as representing a duplication that does not contribute to the safety of the meat available for sale. A public consultation process was organized by CFIA and the comment period closed in November 2010. On April 7, 2012, Regulations Amending the Meat Inspection Regulations were posted in the Canada Gazette. For the proposed amendments, visit the link below: Revised Compositional Standards for Cheese New cheese compositional standards came into force on December 14, 2008. These standards impose limitations on the dairy ingredients that can be used in cheese making and also bring in a regulatory scheme designed to make cheese importers more accountable for ensuring that imported product complies with the new regulations. The regulations limit dairy ingredients by requiring a “minimum percentage of casein from milk” categories, and the requirement of cheeses to meet the minimum ratios. To determine whether or not cheese to be imported complies with Canadian compositional standards, refer to an official copy of the regulations, available at: (English) (French) With the introduction of these revisions, Canadian cheese importers will now need a cheese import license to import cheese. The license is issued by the CFIA. The objective of this new licensing scheme is to require importers to assume more accountability for the product they are importing. An application for the license can be found at: To maintain a cheese import license in good standing, a cheese importer must be able to provide evidence that each imported cheese meets the Dairy Products Regulations. In relation to the new rules on cheese compositional standards, this means that Canadian cheese importers will be requiring documentation from cheese exporters demonstrating that the cheese being exported to Canada complies with the Canadian cheese compositional standards. The exporter documentation to satisfy the requirements of the importer’s license is only required with the first shipment of the cheese and must be maintained by the importer. A new set of documentation is needed only if the cheese formulation changes. Assessment of compliance for imported cheese will not be done at the border but will take place as part of the CFIA’s Importer Verification activity which assesses Good Importing Practices (GIP). The revised compositional requirements are part of this review and it is at this time that the importer’s documentation supporting the fact that the imported cheese is in compliance with the compositional standards regulations will be verified. As stated above, acceptable documentation includes:  Cheese specification sheets indicating specific ingredients  Supporting documentation, including attestations For prepared food that declares cheese as an ingredient, the verification of compliance with the compositional cheese standards will be done only if there is a complaint. Nevertheless, the regulated party has the responsibility of maintaining documentation demonstrating compliance. Non-compliance could result in letters of non-compliance; seizure and detention of product, suspension/cancellation of license, and/or prosecution. The burden of proving compliance remains with the importer. These regulations were challenged and taken to court in 2011. However, The Federal Court of Appeal in Canada dismissed the challenge brought by Saputo Inc. and Kraft Canada Inc. New Regulations Under Development to Address Regulatory Gaps in Imported Food Sector In mid-August, 2010, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced its intentions to move forward with proposed regulations designed to increase food importers' accountability when it comes to the safety of the food they import. For the moment, only imported foods with the following 2 criteria are targeted by these proposed regulations: 1. Products that are intended for use as food, or as an ingredient in food, which meet the definition of an agricultural product as defined by the Canadian Agricultural Products Act (CAPA) [1] , and, 2. Products that are regulated solely under the Food and Drug Act (FDA). According to the CFIA, the scope of these proposed regulations will encompass 86 percent of the food products that are currently regulated under the Food and Drug Act and be applied only to imported products, thus affecting 70 percent of food products imported and available in the Canadian marketplace. These products include but are not limited to: Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages Confectionary Fats and oils Infant formula Coffee and tea Cereals Spices and seasonings Juices Bakery products The proposed regulations have a "general provisions" component and an "importer licensing" component. The pre-consultation ended on October 4, 2010. In April of 2012, a notice of intent was posted in the Canada Gazette regarding the regulations. There will be an opportunity for industry to comment when the regulatory proposal is published in the Gazette in fall of 2012. The CFIA anticipates that the general provisions component to the proposed regulations would come into force at the time of the final publication of the regulations in the Canada Gazette. They anticipate the licensing provisions component to be come into affect two years after the regulations enter into force. The notice of intent can be consulted at the link: Health Claims Assessments In May of 2010, Health Canada's Food Directorate approved the addition of plant sterols (phytosterols) to a limited range of food spreads, mayonnaise, margarine, calorie-reduced margarine, salad dressing, yogurt and yogurt drinks and vegetable and fruit juices. The Directorate's assessment also concluded that the health claim about plant sterols in foods and blood cholesterol lowering is supported by scientific evidence. Additional information on this health claim assessment is available from the following website: In late November of 2010, Health Canada's Food Directorate published its health claim assessment conclusions that scientific evidence exists in support of the claim linking the consumption of beta- glucan oat fibre to a reduction of blood cholesterol. Additional information on this health claim assessment is available on the following website: In July of 2012, Health Canada issued a summary of the health claim, which can be found at the following link: Health Canada is in the process of drafting regulations to permit the use of these health claims, but no timeline has been given. Benzene On April 18, 2008, Canada announced precautionary actions against Bisphenol A (BPA), including a ban on the importation, sale, and advertising of polycarbonate baby bottles. Health Canada conducted a follow-up survey of soft drinks and other beverages (i.e., follow-up to a 2006 survey) and concluded that the benzene levels in these products do not represent a risk to the public. The average benzene levels in most products in Canada remain low. Inspection and Registration Fees As part of a Canadian government initiative to partially recover costs associated with providing inspection services, most federal departments charge fees to industry for inspection and product registrations, where required. Canada claims its fee structure is consistent with WTO provisions for national treatment, in that the fees apply equally to Canadian and import sales. Beef and Bison Export Verification Following the identification of a BSE-infected animal in Washington State, on December 23, 2003, the Canadian government introduced certain import restrictions on U.S. beef and live cattle. On several occasions beginning January 22, 2004, again on April 23, 2004, and in June 2006, the restrictions were partially eased but some special entry requirements remain in effect. An Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Export Verification (EV) program is no longer required for export of beef and beef products to Canada, but it is required for bison or buffalo meat. Since U.S. BSE regulations do not apply to bison or buffalo, meat and meat products derived from these species must be produced under an approved AMS EV program. The red meat export requirements for shipments to Canada are detailed on the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) website: For more information on the Export Verification Program for Bison or Buffalo to Canada, go to: . Requirements for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables All fruits and vegetables imported into Canada must meet specific standards and packaging regulations laid out in the Canada Agricultural Products Act’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations and Processed Product Regulations. The regulations are available on the Internet at: U.S. fresh fruits and vegetable exporters must: comply with Canadian grade standards and packaging regulations obtain Canadian Confirmation of Sale form. Consignment selling is prohibited obtain special waiver of standard container regulations for bulk products file a Canada Customs invoice Beginning in 1995, Canada dropped the mandatory requirement (except for apples, onions, and potatoes) that U.S. exports of fresh produce be accompanied by USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) certification that the produce meets Canadian import requirements. Some U.S. exporters still choose to obtain AMS certification as evidence that the produce left the shipping point in grade and condition. Canada requires all foreign shippers of fresh produce to place a grade on consumer size packages for which Canadian grades are established. The law also requires a country of origin declaration with the grade and weight (in metric) printed in a letter size directly proportional to the size of the package display surface. Consignment selling of fruits and vegetables into Canada is prohibited by law and a confirmation of sale form is required for entry. Only produce that is pre-sold will be released at the border by Canada Customs. Where grades and standard container sizes are established in Canadian regulation, bulk imports require a special exemption from the CFIA. This exemption is not granted unless there is a shortage of domestic supply. Further information on fruit and vegetable regulations is available from: Processed Horticultural Products Imported processed horticultural products are subject to the requirements of Canada’s Processed Products Regulations. These regulations stipulate the standards and grades for processed fruits and vegetables. The maximum container size permitted for importation is 20 kg or 20 liters. The Processed Product Regulations are available for viewing at the following Justice Department website: Tariff Rate Quotas In 1995, under the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement, Canada replaced import quotas on certain agricultural products with Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs). Under the TRQ system, imports which are within quotas are subject to low or free rates of duty, until the quota limit has been reached. Once quota limits have been reached, over-quota imports are subject to significantly higher Most-Favored-Nation (MFN) rates of duty. The Canadian importer must be in possession of an import permit to import TRQ commodities. First-Come, First-Served (FCFS) TRQs FCFS TRQs apply to wheat, barley and their products, cut roses from Israel, dry onions and fresh strawberries from Chile, as well as to certain agricultural products from Mexico (such as roses, carnations, chrysanthemums, tomatoes, onions or shallots, cucumbers and gherkins, broccoli and cauliflower, strawberries for processing, other strawberries, and preserved tomatoes). These TRQ goods are not subject to prior quota allocations, or to specific import permits. In the cases of wheat, barley and their products, as well as cut roses from Israel, quota control is based on a general import permit (GIP). In some cases, such as the importation of onions and strawberries originating in Chile and certain agricultural products originating in Mexico, no GIP exists, but the FCFS quota system works in the same manner. For more information on FCFS TRQs, see the Canadian Border Service Agency: http://www.cbsa- Non First-come, First-Served TRQs Non first-come, first-served TRQs apply to broiler hatching chicks and eggs, chicken, turkey, non- NAFTA beef and veal, cheese, butter, milk and cream, buttermilk, yogurt, dairy blends, ice goods and margarine. The Canadian importer must be in possession of a specific permit issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, which allocates the TRQ to traditional importers and other industry participants. Allocating TRQs The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Export and Import Controls Bureau) is responsible for administering and allocating quotas for the non FCFS TRQ goods and for issuing import permits. Revenue Canada (Customs and Trade Administration) is responsible for the administration of FCFS TRQ goods, which includes monitoring the levels of their importation. For more information go to: Tighter Feed Controls: Canada’s Enhanced Feed Ban The scientific community generally believes that the primary spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle populations is caused by feeding protein products made from infected cattle. Canada introduced a feed ban in 1997 to limit the spread of BSE through domestic feed, but with the subsequent detection of BSE in Canadian-born cattle beginning in May 2003, Canada announced enhancements to its feed ban in June 2006 to further reduce the potential spread of BSE. Canada's enhanced feed ban (EFB) entered into force on July 12, 2007. In infected cattle, BSE concentrates in certain tissues known as specified risk material (SRM). To limit BSE spread among cattle, the Government of Canada banned most proteins, including SRM, from cattle feed in 1997. Under the EFB of July 12, 2007, SRM are also banned from all animal feeds, pet foods and fertilizers and CFIA requires that SRM be identified and appropriately managed until disposal. Permits are required for anyone handling, transporting or disposing of SRM. Section VII. Other Specific Standards: Marine Fish and fish products are subject to the Fish Inspection Act and Regulations, which contain requirements for wholesomeness, labeling, packaging, grading, and health and safety. The Canadian importers of fish and fish products must have an Import License issued by the CFIA and must notify the closest CFIA fish inspection office in writing each time they import fish. Restrictions apply to the importation of live or raw bivalve molluscan shellfish such as mussels, clams and oysters. Import permits may be required for certain types of cultured fish. Certain provinces may have additional requirements for the importation of live fish. Canadian regulatory requirements for imported fish and fish products are administered by the CFIA’s Fish Inspection Directorate (FID). Canadian importers are required to obtain an Import License issued by the FID prior to importing fish products. An import license costs $C500 per year and is valid for 12 months. Importers are required to notify the FID prior to importation of a product or within 48 hours following importation, stating the type and quantity, the name of the producer, the country of origin and the storage location for each product contained within a shipment. The following inspection service fees are charged for imported products: $C50 per shipment of imported fresh fish; $C30 per shipment for any fish imported for further processing; or $C50 per lot for any other type of imported fish to a maximum of $C250 per shipment. The following information provides a guideline to some of the important Canadian packaging and labeling requirements for fish and seafood: Shipping containers for fresh or frozen fish must be stamped or stenciled on one end with all code markings that identify the packer, and day, month, and year of packing. For canned product, each can must be embossed, or otherwise permanently marked, in a code that identifies the name of the establishment, the day, month, and year of processing, and where required in the regulations, the species of fish. FID requires the Canadian importer to provide a list indicating the establishment and the number of containers for each production code. General labeling requirements for fish and fish products in consumer packages include, but are not limited to: English and French for mandatory information, list of ingredients, including additives, the name and address of the packer or distributor, the common name of the product, and the weight in metric units (imperial weight units may appear in addition). More information regarding the requirements to import fish into Canada can be found on the CFIA web site: Novel Foods (Genetically Modified Foods) Health Canada defines novel foods as: products that have never been used as a food; foods which result from a process that has not previously been used for food; or, foods that have been modified by genetic manipulation. These last categories of foods have been described as genetically modified foods. Health Canada is responsible for ensuring that all foods, including those derived from biotechnology, are safe prior to their entering into the Canadian food system. The Novel Foods Regulation (under the Food and Drugs Act) requires that notification be made to Health Products and Food Branch (HPFB) by the company who wants to sell the product prior to the marketing or advertising of a novel food. Pre- market notification is designed to allow Health Canada to conduct a safety assessment of the biotechnology-derived food prior to permitting its sale in the Canadian marketplace. For more information on the regulations governing genetically modified foods consult the Agricultural Biotechnology Report for Canada, report CA12029, which may be found at the following website: The following is Health Canada’s website for information concerning the sale of novel foods (genetically modified foods) in Canada. Contact for Novel Food Pre-Market Notification/Submission Submission Management and Information Unit Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada 251, Sir Frederick Banting Driveway Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K9 Phone: (613) 960-0552 Fax: (613) 946-4590 Email address: Vitamin and Mineral Fortification The addition of vitamins and minerals to food in Canada is controlled by the Food and Drug Regulations and only foods fortified with certain nutrients, and to levels specified in the Regulations, may be sold in Canada. In 1998, Canada began a review of its food fortification policy. The review responded to concerns that the current policy and practices are too restrictive and that they limit the development of new products, as well as Canadians' access to fortified foods available in other countries. The proposed policy is outlined in the document, Addition of Vitamins and Minerals to Food, 2005: Health Canada's Proposed Policy and Implementation Plans. It would retain current fortification practices to prevent and correct nutritional problems, such as requiring the addition of Vitamin D to milk to combat the childhood disease of rickets and the addition of folic acid to flour to reduce birth defects. Fortifying foods to restore vitamins and minerals lost through processing would also continue. The document can be found here: an/nutrition/vitamin/fortification_final_doc_1-eng.php The policy would create a new provision for food fortification done at the "discretion" or "choice" of the manufacturer (within defined limits set by Health Canada) to meet a market demand, a process known as discretionary fortification. The policy also calls for an expansion of the product category of special purpose foods. The policy review is ongoing. Health Canada is expected to draft regulations to implement the policy, although no time frame has been announced. There will be a comment period when the draft regulations are published in the Canada Gazette Part I. The regulatory process usually takes about 12-18 months. For more information on food fortification, visit Trans Fats In June 2006, the Trans Fat Task Force, a multi-stakeholder group led by Health Canada in conjunction with the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, submitted recommendations to the Minister of Health to reduce the levels of trans fats in the CFIA supply. In July 2007, Health Canada announced that it is adopting the Trans Fat Task Force’s recommendation on trans fats, but will ask industry to voluntarily limit the trans fat content of vegetable oils and soft, spreadable margarines to 2 percent of the total fat content, and to limit the trans fat content for all other foods to 5 percent, including ingredients sold to restaurants. Health Canada said that it would give industry two years to reduce trans fats to the lowest levels possible as recommended by the Trans Fat Task Force. If significant progress has not been made over the next two years, it will regulate industry to ensure the levels are met. The Task Force released its fourth set of monitoring data report under its trans fat monitoring program in December 2009. Canada was the first country to require that the levels of trans fat in pre-packaged food be included on the mandatory nutrition label. While some critics charged that the Canadian government chose to delay the regulation of trans fat limits to appease North American food manufacturers, health activists and Canada’s foodservice industry support the move. Wine, Beer and Other Alcoholic Beverages The federal Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act gives the provinces and territories full control over the importation of intoxicating liquor into their jurisdictions. Provincial liquor commissions control the sale of alcoholic beverages in Canada and the market structure can vary considerably from province to province. Alcoholic beverages can only be imported through the liquor commissions in the province where the product will be consumed. In general terms, U.S. exporters are required to have their products “listed” by the provincial liquor control agency. In many provinces, U.S. exporters must have a registered agent who provides the necessary marketing support within the province to obtain a provincial liquor board listing. As an initial step, U.S. exporters should contact the provincial liquor board in the target market for a listing of registered agents. Canadian packaging and labeling requirements for wine and beer are administered under Canada’s Food and Drug Regulations and the Consumer Packaging and Labeling Regulations. In addition to the general packaging and labeling requirements for most foods, the regulations for alcoholic beverages cover common names and standardized container rules. For example, light beer in Canada is defined by regulation as beer with a percentage alcohol of 2.6 to 4.0, by volume. Container sizes for wine are standardized and metric. The most common containers for wine are 750 milliliters or 1, 1.5 and 2 liters. The province of Quebec has additional requirements to alcoholic beverage labeling. The U.S. – Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have created duty free access for most products entering Canada from the U.S., including wine. However, a federal excise tax for alcoholic beverages is imposed on domestic and imported products. U.S. exporters are advised to contact the CFIA’s Single Access Food Labeling Service offices for full label reviews of alcoholic beverages: Organic Foods The import and sale of organic food products in Canada are governed by the same rules and regulations that apply to non-organic food products. No distinction is made between organic and non-organic foods with regard to import requirements. Currently, all Canadian packaging and labeling, grade, and inspection regulations apply equally to organic and non-organic foods. As of June 30, 2009 the new organic products regulations (OPR) require mandatory certification in accordance with the National Standard for Organic Agriculture for all organic products. These regulations fall under the authority of the Canada Agricultural Product Act which regulate the use of the Canada Organic Label. Requirements and regulations for methods of production comply with the most recent edition of the CAN/CGSB-32.310 Organic Production Systems General Principles and Management Standards. Under this regime, in order to market a product as organic in Canada, the product needs to be certified by a certification body accredited by a Conformity Verification Body (CVB) recognized by the CFIA. Detailed information about organic foods in Canada can be found on CFIA's organic products page: Organic claims are required to be printed in English and French. A government logo bearing the official program name “Canada Organic” is available to indicate organic compliance to the Canadian regulation. Use of the seal is voluntary. The new version of the regulations also allows CFIA to enter into equivalency agreements with other countries. The import and sale of organic food products in Canada are governed by the same rules and regulations that apply to non-organic food products. No distinction is made between organic and non-organic food with regard to import requirements. Currently, all Canadian packaging and labeling, grade, and inspection regulations apply equally to organic and non-organic foods. Other Specific Standards – Organics Equivalency Agreement On June 17, 2009, the United States and Canada jointly announced that the two countries had reached an organics equivalency agreement, the first one of its kind. The equivalency agreement follows a review by both nations of the other’s organic certification program and a determination that products meeting the standard in the United States can be sold as organic in Canada, and vice versa. Under a determination of equivalence, producers and processors that are certified to the National Organic Program (NOP) standards by a U.S. Department of Agriculture accredited certifying agent do not have to become certified to the Canada Organic Product Regulation (COPR) standards in order for their products to be represented as organic in Canada. Likewise, Canadian organic products certified to COPR standards may be sold or labeled in the United States as organically produced. Both the USDA Organic seal and the Canada Organic Biologique logo may be used on certified products from both countries. The equivalency agreement is expected to lead to greater market opportunities for organic producers in both countries. The Organic Trade Association (OTA) in Canada has published an unofficial list of certifiers operating in Canada. Additions to this list, as well as details on certifiers active outside of Canada are expected in the coming year. To view this information visit: For more information about the Canadian government’s Organic Product Regulations and about the organic agriculture industry in Canada, go to the following websites: Organic Products Regulations, 2009:
Posted: 30 September 2012

See more from Food , Beverages and Tobacco in Canada

Expert Views    
Retail Food Sector Report - Canada 2012   By Foreign Agricultural Service
An Overview of the Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food System   By Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Hot Tips    
Canada Food and Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards   By Foreign Agricultural Service
Canada Grain and Feed   By Foreign Agricultural Service
Canada Food Exporter Guide Annual Report 2009   By Foreign Agricultural Service