The Canadian Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) have previously set over 300 composition standards for food products being imported and traded within and between provinces of Canada. These compositional standards set regulatory requirements for permitted ingredients, quality parameters, manufacturing, common names, and health and safety. Although useful, these regulations are often a source of confusion, can limit new science & technology and innovation, and do not consider new health risks.
In efforts to modernize and improve regulations to make them more transparent, agile, and responsive to current practices in the food industry, Health Canada opened a 90-day consultation period for proposed regulations amending certain regulations concerning food additives and compositional standards, microbiological criteria, and methods of analysis for food. The consultation opened on November 4, 2023 and will be open for comments until February 2, 2024.
Food Compositional Standards
Proposed amendments would make modifications to sections B.01.002 and B.01.042 of the FDR, removing the food compositional standards from the FDR and moving them into the Food Compositional Standards Documents. Any changes to these documents would be ongoing and immediate upon acceptance. A new section, section B.01.043, would inform if substances other than supplemental ingredients would be required or permitted in the food per the Food Compositional Standards Document. Nineteen specific food commodity standards, currently prescribed in Divisions 1-22 in the FDR will also be updated. All specific labelling requirements as well as any tightly linked provisions for standards will also be moved into the Food Compositional Standards Document. Generally, substances on the List of Permitted Food Additives would be excluded from the standards, with some exceptions such as when a compound or substance has different properties which must be captured in several compositional standards.
The definitions of “common name”, “flavouring preparation”, “sweetening agent”, “unstandardized food”, “unstandardized”, “solid cut meat” and “solid cut poultry meat” will be updated in the amendments.
Industry is to follow the CFIA Incorporation by Reference Policy to make changes to food compositional standards once regulations take effect.
Microbiological criteria and official methods of analysis
Health Canada is proposing a new version of Division 30 Part B of the FDR for microbiological criteria for food. Existing microbiological criteria would be consolidated into the Table of Microbiological Criteria for Food. Adulterations, prohibitions and exemptions do apply.
There are 2 additional documents that the regulations will reference. For reference methods currently set out, there is Volume 2: HPB Methods for the Microbiological Analysis of Food and for Determining Equivalence of Food Microbiological Methods of Analysis, there is Volume 1: Official Methods for the Microbiological Analysis of Foods.
Industry is to follow the Health Canada Incorporation by Reference Policy to make changes going forward.
Chemical, physical, and nutritional methods of analysis
Purposing future changes to official methods (FO) and associated values will be listed in the Table of Chemical, Physical, and Nutritional Characteristics of Food. Methods will be listed based on their association with standardized vs unstandardized foods. Protein ratings as well as permitted nutrient content claims will have consequential revisions due to this change.
Proposed amendments would change Division 16 in Part B of the FDR. Adulteration and exemptions to certain provisions would be defined and current market authorizations would be consolidated. Certain provisions related for food additives and associated requirements (i.e. labelling) would move into a new Table of Food Additive Specifications.
New definitions for “agricultural chemical”, “food additive” and “List of Permitted Food Additives” will be introduced. Changes to location and use of the terms “food colour”, “sweetener”, “food enzyme” “gelling agent”, “infant”, “infant formula”, “dye”, “diluent”, “mixture”, “preparation” and “synthetic colour” will be introduced. Prohibitions and exemptions do apply.
The proposed amendments to the Canadian Food and Drug Regulations signal a significant overhaul, impacting various facets of the food industry. With a focus on transparency and modernization, these changes aim to make regulations more responsive to industry practices. Notably, the amendments include the relocation of food compositional standards, consolidation of microbiological criteria, and restructuring of food additive regulations. Industry players should be prepared for immediate changes upon acceptance, following the CFIA Incorporation by Reference Policy. The proposed alterations in analysis methods, contaminant restrictions, and language updates necessitate adaptability.
It is crucial for stakeholders to participate in the consultation process by submitting comments before the February 2, 2024, deadline, as these regulations will come into force upon publication in the Canada Gazette, Part II. Despite the complexity of the proposed amendments, it is reassuring that no new or added costs are anticipated. Vigilance, timely engagement, and understanding the implications of these changes will be essential for industry participants navigating this regulatory evolution.
Stay Informed: to be well-prepared, we recommend regularly checking the Canada Gazette for ongoing updates with transitional periods and strategic planning.
Participate in Consultations: We recommend that you actively participate during this consultation, and all ongoing consultation periods to share feedback, voice concerns, and contribute to the refinement of the new food compositional standards.
Get Expert Advice: Our consultants are here to assist you in reviewing your products and ingredients and provide you with a tailored compliance strategy to help you be prepared for the upcoming food compositional standards. Don’t hesitate to get in touch today, and together, we can ensure your readiness for these important changes.