How is food regulated in Canada?
The FDA outlines laws on food labelling, advertising and claims; food standards and compositional requirements; fortification; foods for particular dietary uses; food additives; chemical and microbial hazards; veterinary drug residues; packaging material; and pesticides.
Three federal government departments play complementary roles in developing, enforcing, and interpreting policies and guidance stemming from the FDA and its Food and Drug Regulations (FDR).
- Health Canada is responsible for setting regulations and standards for the nutritional quality and safety of all foods sold in Canada. The Food Directorate, within the Health Products and Food Branch, manages the health risks and benefits of food products by evaluating scientific evidence to develop and implement requirements under the FDA and its associated policies and standards. They also conduct food-borne disease surveillance for early detection, monitoring and surveillance. They exercise this mandate under the authority of the FDA, and pursue its regulatory mandate under the FDR.
- The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) enforces health and safety standards outlined in the FDA and its associated regulations. The CFIA’s main concern is to mitigate risks to food safety, and the Agency is also responsible for administrating non-health and safety regulations regarding packaging, labelling and advertising.
- Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) helps to get innovative food products into the marketplace by providing information and support to help the industry understand regulatory requirements associated with the FDA.
The FDA ensures that Canadians can make informed food decisions based on truthful and not misleading information. For this reason, the FDA requires the industry to comply with regulations on food labelling, advertising and claims. Nutrition and health claims must be scientifically validated and constructed to give consumers meaningful information.
Enforcement and Compliance
Health Canada implements policies and regulations around food products and safety. However, they are not responsible for enforcement. CFIA is the primary authority responsible for enforcing the food safety policies and standards that Health Canada sets, including the Food and Drugs Act, to protect Canadian consumers from unsafe food.
In addition, they have the legislative power to administer federal acts and regulations through the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and other associated regulations to all food processors in Canada. The CFIA also enforces the Safe Food for Canadians Act and Regulations to protect consumers from unsafe practices and risk and ensure traceability.
All food businesses are required to meet labelling, packaging and advertising requirements. These provisions enable consumers to make informed food choices based on information that is truthful and not misleading. CFIA also assists in compliance by providing businesses with the tools, resources, guidance, and services they need to stay informed and follow regulatory requirements.
Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations
These regulations describe the labelling and packaging requirements for prepackaged products to ensure consumers have relevant information to make educated choices. It prohibits any misleading and false information from being used on the package. The regulations enforce the accuracy and consistency of labelling for consumer-packaged goods. They also outline mandatory label information, including bilingual requirements, product name, net quantity, and units of measurement.
Health Canada and CFIA Resources