ARCHIVED - Overview of the Public Feedback Received from the CFIA Online Consultation on the Proposed Modernized Beer Standard

July 2015

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Introduction

In its Budget 2014, the Government of Canada announced that the beer standards in the Food and Drug Regulations (B.02.130 and B.02.131) would be revised to better reflect marketplace realities and industry innovation.

During the fall of 2014, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) posted a public consultation on a proposed modernized beer standard for comments. This report provides an overview of the stakeholders feedback submitted during the comment period of October 3, 2014 to November 21, 2014.

The views expressed herein are those of the participants and do not necessarily reflect those of the CFIA or the Government of Canada.

Consultation overview

The intent of the consultation was to obtain an understanding of stakeholders' knowledge and views of the proposed beer standard, and to document the gaps, challenges and issues that stakeholders identified.

The consultation was built around the individual elements of the proposed changes and was presented as a survey questionnaire (13 questions). Additional questionnaires were also available; specifically to gain insight on potential costs and benefits this proposal would have on the industry. The information received from those costs and benefits questionnaires are not included in this summary report.

The CFIA conducted many outreach activities during this period to inform stakeholders about the consultation and to invite them to participate. The CFIA sent emails to hundreds of stakeholders, including brewers of all sizes, provincial liquor boards, and a consumer association.

During the consultation period, the CFIA received 185 completed questionnaires.

Who we heard from

Most of the responses the CFIA received were from small and large businesses, as well as individuals, as follows:

  • 48% from brewers
  • 28% from general public/consumers
  • 9% from other (e.g. importers)
  • 6% from government
  • 3% from associations
  • 3% from provincial liquor boards
  • 1% from the food processing industry (other than beer)
  • 1% from researcher/academic
  • 1% from health or nutrition professional
  • Less than 1% from the beverage industry (other than beer)
  • Less than 1% from retail stores
  • 0% from the malting industry

Description for Distribution of respondents
Description for Distribution of respondents

Summary of stakeholder views and key concerns

The stakeholder input was compiled to calculate the overall support for each of the elements of change. Each comment was then categorized by the rationale provided, which allowed the CFIA to rank the main concerns and challenges for all elements of the proposal.

Overall, the initiative of modernizing the beer standard was well received, with 74 percent supporting work to modernize the standard.

The summary found below highlights the elements of the proposal that received sufficient support to go forward in the regulatory amendment process, and the top concerns with the proposed standard for which further analysis is required.

Summary

Many elements of the proposed revisions to the beer standards of identity received support from the majority of respondents. The rationale respondents provided for this support was that a modernized single standard would remove duplication, provide clarity and simplicity, and would allow industry more innovation in their product development.

The following are the elements that were deemed sufficiently supported to be kept in the proposed beer standard:

  • removing the additives from the standard to rely on the "List of Permitted Food Additives" from Health Canada
  • repealing the standard for ale, stout, porter and malt liquor
  • removing the aroma, taste and characteristic statement from the beer definition
  • defining the term "carbohydrate matter" and clarify that it can be added at any time during processing

Concerns raised

Some respondents raised concerns with the following:

  • Removing "wheat malt" in the definition of beer
    • This change could limit brewers' creativity.
    • Some suggested that the definition should include any malted cereal grains, to allow for gluten-free beers made without any barley or wheat malt.
  • Adding a 4 percent limit in weight of sugar
    • This could exclude certain styles that are currently in the marketplace and advertised as "beer."
    • It could limit product innovation.
    • Further clarification would be necessary to proceed further (for example, original or final sugar content, measurement and testing method).
  • Allowing flavouring preparations, with a maximum of 0.5 percent alcohol contributing to the total volume
    • There are concerns that consumers would not have proper information to make an informed purchasing decision because the labelling of flavouring preparations would not be required.

Next steps

This information has provided the CFIA with a better understanding of the issues. These will be considered as the CFIA further revises the beer standard, which will then be shared with key stakeholders. The CFIA welcomes feedback from Canadians and all stakeholders throughout the process.

Once the proposed regulations are published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, interested parties will again have an opportunity to submit their comments, which the CFIA will consider.

The CFIA would like to thank everyone who provided comment in response to this survey.

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