Consultation on origin labelling of imported foods from a contested territory
This document was part of the consultation on labelling of imported foods from a contested territory. This consultation ran from July 10, 2023, to October 10, 2023.
Consumers are increasingly knowledgeable about food labels, and labelling is one of the most important and direct ways for the industry to share information. All food sold in Canada must be properly labelled in a way that is not false or misleading, including origin indications.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) consulted with consumers and other interested stakeholders on origin labelling of imported food from contested territories. In particular, the CFIA sought feedback on whether an indication of a geographic region or territory would be sufficient to clarify the origin of such food products. For the purpose of this consultation, a contested territory means an area outside of Canada that is subject to competing claims of control by third parties.
Please note, this consultation was about domestic labelling laws and policy. It does not pertain to a specific imported food product or the status of a specific contested territory. In addition, this consultation was not intended to challenge Canada's existing foreign policy. CFIA will not consider any submissions related to Canada's foreign policy.
Your feedback will help us develop origin labelling guidance to help industry indicate on their food labels the origin of food products from contested territories in a manner that is not false or misleading.
Before you begin, we encourage you to read and consider this important background information:
- The CFIA provides general information and guidance to industry to promote regulatory compliance with labelling
- Country of origin is required on the label of brandy and wine (Food and Drug Regulations), and a foreign state is required on imported dairy products, eggs and processed egg products, fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, honey, maple products, meat products, and some processed fruit or vegetable products (Safe Food for Canadians Regulations)
- The requirement for a country of origin statement does not apply when foods originate from a contested territory that is not part of a country recognized by Canada, though industry may decide to provide that information, provided the label is not false or misleading
- It is the responsibility of regulated parties, including those who import food, to comply with the food labelling requirements of the Food and Drugs Act (FDA), the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR), the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA), and the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR)
- Among other purposes, food labels are intended to enable consumers to make informed choices based on information that is not false or misleading. Also, it is recognized that the space on food labels is limited
- When considering whether a label is in compliance with applicable rules, the CFIA reviews the label in question and assesses all the information provided – including words, images, vignettes, logos, and input relevant parties
To support development of guidance on origin labelling of imported food from contested territories, the CFIA sought feedback on the following question:
- For food products from contested territories, would having the geographic region or territory where the food product was produced noted on the label help clarify where the product came from so that the label is not considered "false or misleading" under Canadian labelling regulations?
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- General principles for labelling and advertising
- Country of origin on food labels
- Consumers should contact a company directly to report concerns about the labelling of any food product. They can also report concerns to the CFIA.
- In cases where the CFIA identifies a non-compliance, the CFIA determines an appropriate response by applying its food regulatory response guidelines.
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