Frequently Asked Questions: Food and Drug Regulations (as they relate to food)

The FAQs below are meant to provide Canadians and businesses with general information about the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's regulations.

1. What is the purpose of these regulations?

The Food and Drug Regulations, under the authority of the Food and Drugs Act, regulate food, drugs, and cosmetic products to help protect the health and safety of Canadians. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is responsible for the enforcement of the provisions related to food.

2. What are the key elements of these regulations as they relate to the mandate of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency?

Part A - Administration: sets out powers, definitions and obligations that generally apply throughout the regulations.

Part B - Food:

  • Division 1 - General: sets out additional definitions specific to foods as well as requirements for general labelling, allergen labelling and nutrition labelling; permissible nutrient content claims; and permissible health claims for foods.
  • Divisions 2 to 14 and 17 to 22 - Standards of Composition and Identity: set out 334 standards of composition and identity for a wide range of foods. These divisions are categorized on a commodity basis.
  • Division 15 - Adulteration of Food: sets out the tolerances and maximum residue limits for pest control products, veterinary drugs and other chemical substances that may be present in specified foods not to be considered adulterated, and therefore, prohibited from sale in Canada.
  • Division 16 - Food Additives: regulates the food additives that have been assessed and approved for use in Canada. This division also sets out the submission requirements for stakeholders seeking approval for the use of a new food additive, to extend the use of an existing food additive, or for any other change pertaining to food additives.
  • Division 23 - Food Packaging Materials: sets out a general prohibition against the sale of food in a package composed of material that may be harmful to health. The division also prescribes conditions for the use of specified substances in food packaging.
  • Division 24 - Foods for Special Use: prescribes the compositional requirements and labelling requirements specific to foods represented and sold for special dietary use (such as formulated liquid diets, meal replacements, nutritional supplements, prepackaged meals, foods sold by weight reduction clinics, and foods represented for use in low energy diets).
  • Division 25 - Infant Foods and Human Milk Substitutes: prescribes the compositional requirements, acceptable food additives and labelling requirements specific to infant foods, human milk substitutes and foods containing human milk substitutes.
  • Division 26 - Food Irradiation: prescribes foods that may be irradiated, the permitted source and purpose of the irradiation as well as the acceptable dose absorbed by the food. This division also sets out the submission requirements to seek approval to irradiate a new food, to use a new source of irradiation, and to change a purpose of treatment and/or an absorption dose.
  • Division 27 - Low-Acid Foods Packaged In Hermetically Sealed Containers: sets out the requirements for the sale of low-acid foods in hermetically sealed containers.
  • Division 28 - Novel Foods: sets out the definition of a novel food as well as the pre-market notification requirements for the sale of such foods in Canada. Foods derived from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are considered novel foods.

3. How do these regulations affect Canadian businesses?

Parts A and B, and certain divisions of Part C of these regulations are most relevant to businesses when interacting with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. These parts of the regulations provide businesses with requirements for the manufacture, packaging, labelling, importation, advertisement and/or distribution for sale of food and veterinary drug products in Canada.

4. When did these regulations come into force?

The Food and Drug Regulations came into force on May 25, 1949. The Food and Drugs Act was introduced in 1920 and by the late 1920s, regulations were developed under the Act.

5. Where can I get more information?

Please refer to the Food section of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's website for more information. Further information on the regulation of food in Canada is also available under the Food & Nutrition section of Health Canada's website.

Questions relating to the Food and Drug Regulations may be directed to the Food Safety Specialists at the CFIA regional office.

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