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Labelling, standards of identity and grades

The food label is one of the most important and direct means of communicating product information between buyers and sellers. It is one of the primary means by which consumers differentiate between individual foods and brands to make informed purchasing choices.

Labelling roles and responsibilities

In Canada, the responsibility for food labelling is shared between Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Health Canada administers regulations and standards relating to the health, safety, and nutritional quality of food sold in Canada, under the Food and Drugs Act. This includes labelling requirements about the nutrients in food (the Nutrition Facts table), claims about nutrients, the presence of food allergens, and safety-related expiration dates.

The CFIA administers non-health and safety food labelling regulations related to misrepresentation, labelling, advertising and standards of identity under the Food and Drugs Act and (the Food and Drug Regulations). This includes the company contact information, ingredient labelling, and quality-related best before dates.

The CFIA also establishes and administers regulations under the Safe Food for Canadians Act (i.e. the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations). This includes regulations for the misrepresentation, labelling, standards of identity, grade, and packaging of food. The amount in the package (such as the net quantity), the origin of the food, labelling requirements for ready-to-eat products, and prescribed weights and container sizes are examples of these provisions.

The CFIA is responsible for the enforcement of all of the above regulations.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)'s labelling legislative framework outlines the purpose of food labelling, key acts and regulations and additional information on federal responsibilities for Canada's labelling requirements.

Information on labelling, standards of identity and grades

Safe Food for Canadians Regulations

The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) set out the requirements for all foods that are imported, exported and inter-provincially traded. Some traceability, labelling and advertising provisions also apply to intra-provincially traded foods. Requirements of standards of identity and grades have been included in documents incorporated by reference.

Companies must adhere to requirements under the Food and Drugs Act (FDA) and Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) in addition to those under the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) and SFCR.

The information below outlines the main changes to labelling, standards of identity and grade requirements under the SFCR.

Food and Drug Regulations – updates

Food labelling coordination

Notice to industry

Additional information

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