Notice to industry: Information regarding certain labelling and packaging requirements for certain pre-packaged foods due to extreme flooding in British Columbia
November 22, 2021
Due to the extreme flooding in British Columbia (BC), the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is providing the following information for regulated parties regarding labelling and packaging requirements for certain foods imported from the United States and sold at retail or to foodservice establishments in BC. There is no change to requirements for food sold at retail or to foodservice establishments in the rest of Canada.
Labelling and packaging requirements for certain pre-packaged foods
Canadian laws and regulations remain in force, including those related to food labelling.
However, the CFIA recognizes that circumstances related to the extreme flooding in BC may make it difficult for industry to comply with regulatory requirements while ensuring safe food is available for consumers in grocery stores.
Accordingly, in cases of non-compliance related to non-food safety labelling and packaging requirements for the following food products, the CFIA will exercise its enforcement discretion in consideration of the flooding in British Columbia:
- canned foods,
- dry pasta
- infant food (excluding formula)
- fresh fruits and vegetables
- bottled water
Despite the above, when the products listed are sold in BC during this flooding event, they must continue to:
- meet all Canadian food safety requirements
- have labels that are not false, misleading or deceptive
- include the following information, as applicable to the product:
- a common name
- a list of ingredients and Canadian priority allergen and gluten source declaration
- a name and contact information for the person responsible for the food
- a net quantity (in metric or imperial units)
- a lot code identifier (such as date of production, best before date, lot number)
- storage instructions, expiry date, best before date
- directions for use (such as safe cooking instructions)
- any applicable food safety statements (for example, previously frozen, mechanically tenderized meat)
The product information listed above can be provided in any legible format or in any place on the label.
If the product information listed above is not on the label, it could be applied to or might accompany the food packaging in any legible format and by any means, such as a sticker or a highly visible sign at the point of purchase.
The information must be available to the consumer or final purchaser.
Language requirements for labelling
Product information listed above is, where required, to be provided on the label of the pre-packaged food in both English and French.
Any product information listed above that cannot be provided in both English and French must be made available by other means, such as a sticker, a leaflet, a highly visible sign at the point of purchase, or on the retail business website (with instructions on how to access it).
Examples of scenarios where this notice applies
The CFIA's enforcement discretion with respect to non-compliant labelling and packaging as described above would apply to sales only in BC of:
- products made for Canadian retail sale or foodservice use
- products made for U.S. retail sale or foodservice use
- products that do not meet standardized container size requirements
This list is not exhaustive. Additional scenarios could be considered and if you need further guidance, you may contact the CFIA.
Requirement for documentation
While the CFIA continues to expect compliance with all labelling requirements, in cases where regulated parties are unable to fully comply due to the flooding event in BC, it is critical that regulated parties document any non-compliant pre-packaged food products sold in accordance with this notice. Documentation would include:
- traceability documentation as required under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR)
- how the flooding led to the need to sell food with non-compliant labels
- the nature of the non-compliance
- the actions taken to prevent or minimize any risk to human health
- steps taken to return to compliance at the earliest opportunity
Most importantly, regulated parties must notify the CFIA if food safety issues arise.
Duration and application of this measure
This notice applies immediately to the pre-packaged foods listed above that are packaged and labelled prior to this publication and packaged and labelled while this notice is in effect. This notice will remain until December 31, 2021 after which time it will no longer have effect.
Requirements for specific situations
Existing regulatory requirements for specific situations continue if applicable, including:
- Requirements for pre-packaged food products returned to Canada
Canadian pre-packaged food products being returned to Canada from the U.S. must be accompanied by any previously issued CFIA proof of Canadian export certification for that food as stipulated in the CFIA's Automated Import Reference System (AIRS).
- Requirements for frozen raw breaded chicken products for sale at retail
In addition to the labelling information described above and other food safety requirements, frozen raw breaded chicken products that were prepared for sale for foodservice use must meet one of the Salmonella control options before they can be sold at retail.
- Other regulatory requirements
Activities other than labelling (such as importing, freezing of meat) related to pre-packaged food products that are subject to the SFCR licensing requirements must be conducted in a federally regulated establishment. All other SFCR requirements continue to apply.
The CFIA's long-standing enforcement and compliance policy has always been to respond to non-compliance with fairness, impartiality and transparency. The CFIA will continue to do so with the additional considerations raised by the extreme flooding in BC in mind.
While all food labelling laws continue to apply, the CFIA wishes to assure industry that it will exercise its enforcement discretion while taking into account challenges faced by industry during this significant flooding event.
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