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Notice to industry – The use of food additives in certain ready-to-eat meat products

Important notice

On November 9, 2021, the CFIA posted new Notice to industry – Compliance timelines for the use of food additives in certain ready-to-eat meat products. Please refer to the new notice for current compliance enforcement dates.

February 11, 2021 – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is reminding industry that the use of food additives in certain ready-to-eat (RTE) meat products must be clearly labelled and advertised.

After a review of undeclared food additives used in certain RTE meat products, CFIA found that some products contain ingredient preparations made of vinegar buffered by food additives such as sodium bicarbonate, potassium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide, which were not declared in the list of ingredients.

Food additives may be used as per Health Canada's lists of permitted food additives; however, it is required by the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) that these food additives be declared in the list of ingredients as either an ingredient or a component of the food (FDR B.01.008).

This does not affect the safety of these products. All food sold in Canada, including RTE meat products, must continue to meet Canada's food safety requirements.

In addition to declaring any food additives, industry is responsible to ensure that the information presented through labels and advertising is not false or misleading, and does not create an erroneous impression (for example, for standards of identity or method of production claims).

Regulated parties should be able to substantiate any claims. This may include providing information to consumers on the meaning of the claim (for example, via a website), by conducting consumer research to substantiate the claim, or other measures to ensure that the average consumer will not be misled.

On December 22, 2020, Health Canada published the Notice of Health Canada's Proposal to Enable the Use of Modified Vinegar as a Preservative in Certain Meat and Poultry Products and Preparations. As stated in the notice, Health Canada intends to enable the use of modified vinegar by modifying Part 2 of the List of Permitted Preservatives and is able to consider additional scientific information about this proposal until March 6, 2021. Regulated parties will then have a 12-month transition period to bring their labels and advertising into compliance. This 12-month period will start on the day Health Canada publishes the Notice of Modification informing stakeholders that modified vinegar has been added to the List of Permitted Preservatives. For the most current requirements, please refer to the Industry Labelling Tool. The CFIA will be monitoring compliance to all federal labelling and advertising requirements and conducting follow up inspections to ensure the necessary changes have been made.

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