TriC1
Food Suite® Canada Canada Special News Bulletin
 March 30, 2021: AN UPDATE TO CANADIAN FOOD LABELLING MODERNIZATION & RELATED CONSULTATIONS...

There have been many questions recently concerning the progress of various food labelling and other initiatives undertaken by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada over the past several years. Food labelling modernization, now known as Food Product Innovation Regulations, is never an easy or quick affair. COVID-19 has introduced several challenges for both government and industry in prioritizing modernization initiatives. This has caused legitimate concerns in industry in meeting proposed transition targets. It has also raised cost concerns in industry in managing both modernization and COVID-19. As a result, both CFIA and Health Canada have re-prioritized their initiatives through to 2022. This includes the suspension of some initiatives or the extension of transition periods. The following summarizes the statutes of the identified initiatives as of today’s date. The information is provided for the reader’s convenience. The reader should consult the applicable authority for any updates to the status of these initiatives.

 Initiative

 Summary, Comments & Links

Ingredient & Nutrition Labelling

So, What Happened on and since December 14, 2016?

BACKGROUND: Final regulations amending the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) came into force on December 14, 2016, when published in Canada Gazette II. This had the following consequences.

  • Ingredient Labelling was modernized. The new rules have very prescriptive requirements in how a list of ingredients must be declared and displayed on a label.
  • New colour labelling rules and sugars-based ingredients labelling.
  • Allergen and precautionary labelling were modernized in view of how the information must be declared and presented on a label.
  • Nutrition labelling regulations were amended. New nutrition fact table (NFt) formats, new Daily Values (DV) and new serving size rules resulted in significant changes to what information and how the information is displayed on a label.

STATUS: These regulations are final.

TRANSITION PERIOD: The formal transition period ends on December 14, 2021. This means food labelled after this date must be with a label that includes a new ingredient list and nutrition facts table.

UPDATE: In February 2021, CFIA and Health Canada announced that due to COVID-19 challenges, CFIA will in the year following December 14, 2021, (until December 14, 2022), engage in compliance promotion and education. Effectively, CFIA will not enforce the new rules in the year following the end of the transition period. The transition period has not however been formally extended. CFIA has also noted that they may engage in enforcement discretion in the year following December 14, 2022, (until December 14, 2023), where manufacturers have a detailed plan in place to bring the labelling of the food up-to-speed with the new labelling requirements as soon as possible. So effectively industry has been given an extra year and possibly a bit more to label their foods with the new ingredient and nutrition labelling rules.

Food Labelling Modernization

(now known as Food Product Innovation Regulations)

So, What Happened to CFIA’s Food Labelling Modernization?

BACKGROUND: After many years of consultation dating back to 2013, proposed food labelling modernization regulations that would, if finalised amend, the Food and Drug Regulations and the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations regarding broad based food labelling requirements. Some streamlining of rules was also part of this. Proposed regulations were published in Canada Gazette I on June 22, 2019. This had the following consequences. Please note that the following is not a comprehensive summary of all proposed regulations.

STATUS: These regulations are proposed (not final).

TRANSITION PERIOD (proposed): The proposed regulations had proposed transition period. Two years after the final regulations would come into force, some of the less complex label changes like date labelling, company information and foreign state of origin would be transitioned. More complex and demanding changes like legibility and characterizing ingredients and flavours would have seen a 4-year transition period.

UPDATE: In late November 2020 CFIA announced that due to COVID-19 challenges, proposed changes that would have resulted in mandatory label changes will not be pursued at this time. These may be pursued in future rule making. However, CFIA does expect to complete the rule making process by having final regulations published in Canada Gazette II in the fall of 2021. The final regulations would however be a very much trimmed down version from what was original proposed. The following would most likely be included in the final regulations.

CFIA has also renamed it very much trimmed initiative from “Food Labelling Modernization” to “Food Product Innovation”. The latter has a focus of creating regulations and governance of food that is more responsive to innovation. CFIA has also noted that they plan to consider the food labelling modernization element that will not be finalized in this round, in future rule making. Any future initiatives will need new rule making steps.

Front of Package (FOP) Nutrition Labelling

So, What Happened to FOP (Front of Packaging) Nutrition Labelling?

BACKGROUND: After many years of consultation, proposed rules were published in Canada Gazette I in February 2018, but not finalized. In December of 2019, the Prime Minister issued a mandate letter to the Minister of Health, that FOP is a government priority.

FOP rules would essentially require the principal display panel of a food to display a nutrition symbol alerting consumers that the food is high in high in sodium saturated fat or sugars. This would be gauged on a per serving of stated and per reference amount. High would be considered 15% of the daily value of any of sugars, saturated fat or sodium. In the case meal product this would be 30%. Some exceptions were proposed.

TRANSITION PERIOD (proposed):  The proposed regulations, (Food and Drug Regulations), had original anticipated just a 2-year transition period once the rules were finalized. In consultation after the proposed regulations, Health Canada noted that an extended transition period of at least 4 years would apply.

UPDATE: In February 2021, Health Canada noted that they wish to publish final regulation in Canada Gazette II in the fall of 2021.

Note: It is not certain how Health Canada will in such a short time achieve final regulations by the fall of 2021. It will be interesting! If completed in fall of 2021, we anticipate a lengthy transition period. This may be coordinated with Health Canada’s and Agriculture Agri-food Canada’s plan on fixed compliance dates. The later speaks to food labelling changes that are not related to serious consumer deception or acute risks to health and safety.

Food Standards Under the FDR

Forward Regulatory Plan: 2020 to 2022

Amendments to the Food and Drug Regulations (creating an agile framework for compositional standards)

BACKGROUND: Consultation in this topic dates back several years to 2013. It was once a hot potato, but in shadow of other food labelling modernization became a cold potato. Well, it is back as a hot potato, as this fits in nicely with CFIA’s Food Product Innovation Regulations initiative.

TRANSITION PERIOD (comment):  It appears that the first stage of this modernization is to consolidate the foods standards in the FDR (Food and Drug Regulations). This will be via incorporation by reference. In this way they would be ready to be amended in a more expeditious manner, as needed in view of CFIA’s outlook on innovation. Therefore, there will likely not be a need for a transition period.

STATUS:  This is the pre-publication stage for proposed regulations (Food and Drug Regulations).

UPDATE: CFIA has noted that they expect proposed rules (Food and Drug Regulations) by fall or 2021.

Simulated Meat/Poultry and Pant Based Foods

 

Proposed changes to guidelines for simulated meat and simulated poultry products

BACKGROUND:  In November 2020, CFIA announced that it will look at the possibility of creating a policy position on developing criteria that clearly differentiates products that might on the appearance alone resemble meat or poultry products. Current definition of “simulated meat/poultry” in the Food and Drug Regulations capture products as simulated meat/poultry products simply based on how a food is interpreted as “resembling” a meat or poultry product. As simulated meat and poultry products are subject to compositional and nutrition considerations in Division 14-FDR (Simulated Meat) and Division 21-FDR  (Simulated Poultry).

STATUS:  This is in the post consultative stage, waiting for CFIA feedback on what they have heard.

TRANSITION PERIOD (comment): This appears to be the development of a policy in assisting in the interpretation of what might be considered a substitute food. AS such formal rule changes may not be needed. The outcome may provide great flexibility to industry and thus likely would not need a transition period once finalized.

UPDATE: The consultation period is now closed.

Measuring the protein quality of foods

Measuring the protein quality of foods

BACKGROUND:  Health Canada in December 2020 had provided an update on the acceptable methods of determining protein quality in most foods, like simulated meat/poultry and for the purpose of making nutrient content claims.

Since the official method (FO-1) is referenced in the FDR, this amendment must involve Governor in Council amendments to the FDR.

STATUS:  While proposed and final regulations (Food and Drug Regulations) still need to be drafted, Health Canada has noted they will accept the new PDCAAS method now.

TRANSITION PERIOD (comment):  In the interim, while the regulatory process is undertaken, Health Canada will accept both PER (Protein Efficiencies Ratio) or PDCAAS (protein digestibility corrected amino acid score) methods. As such a formal transition period would not seem necessary as this is not in effect.

Supplemented Food

Consultations on Supplemented Foods

BACKGROUND:  In February 2021, Health Canada issued a notice of their intent to introduce proposed regulations in Canada Gazette I to amend the FDR to create rules concerning supplemented foods.

Supplemented foods is a category of foods to which added vitamins, minerals or botanical substances have been added and that were subject to previously issued temporary marketing authorizations
(TMA - https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/legislation-
guidelines/guidance-documents/category-specific-guidance-
temporary-marketing-authorization-supplemented-food.html
).

Health Canada plans on having proposed regulations in Spring 2021.

STATUS:  This is in pre-publication of proposed regulations stage.

TRANSITION PERIOD (comment): Once rules are finalized, a transition period is likely not necessary as current TMA products may be rolled over to the then final regulations, (Food and Drug Regulations). Any new products would then follow the final rules.  

Note: Search for “Consultations on Supplemented Foods” in the above link.

Uniform Compliance Dates

Consultation on Proposed Joint Policy Statement on Food Labelling Coordination

BACKGROUND:  In February 2021, Health Canada launched a consultation on a policy where they would work with CFIA to set fixed compliance date every 2 years for any new food labelling changes. The consultation is still open. It ends April 3, 2021. The first proposed fixed compliance date is January 1, 2026.

The policy would apply to regulatory changes under the Food and Drugs Act or the Safe Food for Canadians Act, affecting food labelling. Changes that related to serious consumer deception or acute risks to health and safety would not be subject to the policy.

STATUS: Consultation is open until April 3, 2021.

Consulting With Canadians

To keep up with ongoing Government of Canada consultations visit the following link.

A list of various government of Canada consultation.