New Compliance Date Set for Health Canada’s 5-year Food Labelling Changes Plan

New Compliance Date Set for Health Canada’s 5-year Food Labelling Changes Plan

March 18, 2022 By

Health Canada has announced December 14, 2022, as the new date for when the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) updated food labelling regulations (which came into effect on December 14, 2021), would begin to be enforced. As of December 15, 2022 the CFIA will begin to verify compliance and apply enforcement actions against non-compliant companies.

Here is a summary of changes that will be in effect for Canadian food labels as of December 15, 2022:

Nutrition facts table:

  • Serving size
    • Consistent across foods making it easier to compare similar foods
    • Realistically the reflects amount that a Canadian would typically eat in one sitting
  • Font
    • For calories and serving size – Increase the font size to make it easier to read
    • Underline calories on the label
  • Revise the % daily values based on updated science
  • Add % daily value for total sugar content
  • Update list of nutrients to:
    • Add potassium
    • Remove vitamin A & C
  • Add amounts in milligrams (mg) for potassium, calcium, and iron
  • Adding a footnote at the bottom to help interpret % daily value
    • E.g. 5% is a little, 15% is a lot

List of Ingredients:

  • Group all sugar-based ingredients in brackets after the name ‘sugars’
  • List food colours by their common names
  • Requiring list typeface to be a black font on a white or neutral background
  • Requiring minimum type height for ingredients
  • Using bullets or commas to separate ingredients
  • Using both upper and lower case letters for ingredients in the list
    • Same format will also apply to any ‘contains’ statement indicating the presence or potential presence of:
      • Food allergens
      • Gluten
      • Sulphites

Food Labelling Modernization

The following are changes still currently proposed to food labelling by the Canadian Federal Inspection Agency (CFIA)

  1. Standard container sizes – changes to certain prescribed standard container sizes.
  2. Use of class names – Use of Group names for similar ingredients, such as “vegetable oil”, “flavour” or “milk ingredients”. The list of mandatory and optional class names is to be aligned with international standards.
  3. Streamline commodity-specific labelling – Many current requirements are very prescriptive and outdated. These are proposed to be streamlined to remove duplication and burden for the industry.
  4. Definition of “Test Market Food” – A test market authorization (TMA) gives a short-term exemption from regulatory requirements to allow a company to test a new product on the market. Currently, there is no consistent process and criteria for all foods.
  5. Date marking – Currently applies to foods with a durable life of 90 days or less. The proposal is to apply the requirement to all foods.
  6. Company information – Alternate methods of communication to be allowed, such as phone number, email, or website address
  7. Country of origin of imported food – Currently, only some types of imported food must declare the country or state of origin on the label. The proposal is to require an indication of the country or state of origin for all wholly imported foods.
  8. Streamline commodity-specific labelling – Currently, there is no overall requirement about how to describe a food, but there are many commodity-specific prescriptive requirements. The proposal is to introduce requirements to describe the true nature of the food and eliminate many commodity-specific requirements.
  9. Legibility and location of type size – Currently, there are inconsistent requirements for font size and placement of text across food types. Consistent text requirements for all foods have been proposed.
  10. Characterizing ingredients – Claims or pictures emphasizing the presence of key ingredients can mislead consumers. It is proposed to declare % of characterizing ingredients on the label, the example uses the “flavoured” descriptor when food is added in flavouring amounts.

While the date for overall compliance has changed to December 15, 2022, we still recommend that any companies with labels subject to change adopt the current food packaging requirements as soon as possible.

We also recommend that all marketers of packaged foods review their products to determine if their packaging will be further affected by the CFIA’s proposed changes under the Food Labelling Modernization initiative. If you have any questions about this article or any other food labelling or regulatory matter, please contact dicentra today.