On December 15, 2022, CFIA will commence enforcement on food label compliance. From December 15, 2022, until December 14, 2023, the food industry is expected to be fully compliant. In cases of outstanding nonconformity, businesses must be prepared to provide a Corrective Action Plan to CFIA upon request.
Food Labeling Regulations Timeline
Food label modernization are a part of Health Canada’s Healthy Eating Strategy program, an initiative that began in 2013. The goal was to set guidelines to improve the clarity and quality of information displayed on food labels and packaging in order to help Canadians make healthier, informed food choices and as well, to be able to compare similar products.
From the initial regulatory proposals, Health Canada further enhanced regulations focusing on the self-explanatory nature of the food label information so to improve accessibility for consumers.
On December 14, 2016, Health Canada published, “Regulations Amending the Food and Drug Regulations (Nutrition Labelling, Other Labelling Provisions and Food Colors)”, in the Gazette II., Aaa5-year transition period. The deadline of December 14, 2021 was also set with the expectation that it provide the industry ample time to achieve compliance.
Due to COVID-19 challenges, the industry was given an extra year. The compliance deadline revised and extended an additional two years. On January 19, 2022, Health Canada published an implementation plan for the regulations set out across three phases:
- Phase I and II: During the original 5-year period (2016 – 2021), Health Canada and CFIA provided guidelines and training tools to the industry.
- Phase III: within 1 year after the transition period (until December 14, 2022), CFIA to focus on education and compliance promotion.
- December 15, 2022: The formal transition period ends. The industry is expected to be fully compliant. In cases of any remaining nonconformity, the industry must be prepared to provide a Corrective Action Plan to CFIA upon request. The plan must outline in detail how the business will meet the requirements as soon as possible and no later than December 14, 2023.
- December 15, 2023, onwards: CFIA enforcement begins.
New Nutrition Label Requirements
New regulations affect the following label elements:
- Nutrition facts table format: How nutrition information is presented and declared, Daily Values, serving size, and sugar information
- List of ingredients: Improvements to ingredient transparency. This includes listing the names of sugar-based ingredients together (for example, if one or more sugar ingredients are present in a particular product, then the listing will group them all together, such as “sugar (fancy molasses, brown sugar)”). Food colours will also be required to be listed by their specific names.
- Allergen and precautionary information declaration.
Additional Pending Amendments
On February 09, 2018, and as part of its Healthy Eating Strategy, Health Canada had proposed an additional set of food label amendments which included and not limited to nutrition symbols, partially hydrogenated oils, and vitamin D. Health Canada at the time proposed December 2022 as the deadline for transition to this set of amendments as well, although the amendment has not been published on Canada Gazette II as yet. These changes will affect the following:
- front-of-package nutrition labelling
- Nutrient content claims
- high-intensity sweetener labelling
Time is Running Out
To achieve compliance or maintain compliance with food label regulations requires businesses to conform revisions to the food labels. The food industry is also expected to have an implementation plan for:
- Becoming familiar with the amendments to the Food and Drug Regulations as they pertain to their products
- Provide training to employees on the amendments
- Replenishing inventory of any non-compliant labels preferably by December 14, 2022
- Procuring compliant labels
- Development of an official Corrective Action Plan describing on how quickly they will correct and/or destroy nonconforming labels if any remains after December 14, 2022.
We can support your food label compliance requirements
Time and resources required for planning and implementation of all those changes can be cumbersome. On the other hand, familiarity with and thorough understanding of the existing and amended regulations at the time of preparing the label drafts is critical to ensure cost-effective and timely compliance with the regulations.
Can we help? Contact Us.
Our food regulatory affairs experts provide regulatory compliance services to the industry. This includes but not limited to review on your food labels to ensure full compliance of your labels with the Food and Drug Regulations as applies to your specific food commodities.