Standards of identity for food

A standard of identity (or compositional standard) sets out what ingredients a product must contain, what ingredients it may contain, and any requirements of manufacturing.

Standards of identity may also provide technical specifications regarding:

  • permitted food additives
  • fortification, such as those for enriched bread, or vitamins A and D that must be added to milk
  • in some cases, food safety requirements (microbiological, chemical or physical)


Standardized foods

A standardized food is a food for which a standard of identity has been set in regulation. Standards of identity currently exist for over 500 foods under the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) and the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR).

Within the FDR, food standards are found in Part B, Divisions 2 to 22, and are identified with an [S]. In the SFCR, food standards are included in a document titled Canadian Standards of Identity which is prepared by the CFIA and is incorporated by reference into the regulations.

The Canadian Standards of Identity document is comprised of the following eight (8) volumes:

Note: Words or expressions that are used in a specific volume of the Canadian Standards of Identity document, but are not defined in that volume, have the same meaning as in the SFCR [4, SFCR].

Foods with prescribed standards must comply with the specifications of the standards of identity in every respect. This requirement to comply with prescribed standards also applies to foods likely to be mistaken for a standardized food [9, SFCR].

Foods with prescribed standards must include only the stated ingredients within the prescribed limits. If the standard includes an ingredient to be used as a food additive, that additive must be used in accordance with the purpose and level provided by the SFCR or the FDR for that food [10, SFCR; B.01.042, FDR].

When names for foods appear in bold face type, but not in italics, in the Canadian Standards of Identity document or in the FDR, these names are the prescribed common names that must be used for foods meeting the compositional standard [1, 201, 393(2), SFCR; B.01.001(1), FDR]. For more information, please refer to the section Choosing an appropriate common name.

Unstandardized foods

Unstandardized foods are those that do not have a standard of identity or that deviate from a prescribed standard in any manner.

A food that does not meet the requirements of a standard cannot use the prescribed name for that standardized food [201, SFCR]. A modified standardized common name or another name that accurately describes the food may be used. For more information, refer to the section Modified standardized common name.