Import and Interprovincial Requirements for Dairy Products - Overview

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This information is intended to provide an overview of federal requirements (grades, standardized products, packaging, labelling and registered establishments) for for the processing and distribution (import, and interprovincial commerce) of products covered by the Dairy Products Regulations. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is the single contact for all federal regulations covering the products falling under the Dairy Products Regulations, except for the granting of import permits.

This is not intended to replace any federal regulations; it is recommended to consult the appropriate set of regulations before using any information.

Import Requirements

If you wish to import a dairy product, please ensure that the following points are respected:

Permits and Licenses

To qualify for a lower tariff rate, the Export and Import Permits Act requires an Import Permit for the following dairy products. This list is to be used as a guide only; some products do not fall into the Dairy Products Regulations.

  • cheese of all types including fresh, grated, powdered, and processed,
  • milk and cream (liquid or powder) with or without sweetener,
  • milk, cream, or butter substitutes with more than 15% milk fat,
  • concentrated or condensed milk or cream,
  • powdered buttermilk,
  • buttermilk, curdled milk and cream, kephir and other fermented or acidified milk and cream,
  • products consisting of natural milk constituents such as milk protein concentrates or blends of milk constituents,
  • milk cream or butter substitutes with 50% or more by weight of dairy content,
  • non-alcoholic beverages containing milk (other than chocolate milk) with 50% or more by weight of dairy content,
  • feeds and feed supplements with 50% or more by weight, in the dry state, of non-fat milk solids,
  • chocolate ice cream mix and ice milk mix,
  • ice cream mixes and ice milk mixes, and
  • ice cream, edible ice, and ice sherbets.

Please contact Global Affairs Canada for further information on permits prior to importing. If an import permit is not obtained, a dairy product may still be imported, but a higher tariff rate will be imposed.

For finished products containing dairy products as ingredients, such as cheesecake, please contact the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) for the tariff classification (tariff rate to be paid), toll-free 1-800-461-9999 or for calls outside of Canada, 204-983-3500.

In the case of cheese, the importer must hold a valid Cheese Import Licence issued by the CFIA.

Additional Requirements

  1. Dairy products can only be accepted if they are produced in a country that does not pose animal health concerns to Canada
  2. Minimum grade or standard
  3. Correct labelling - Consumer-sized products (pre-packaged) must be labelled with the information required to be shown under the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations and Dairy Products Regulations.
  4. An Import Declaration form in duplicate, completed by the importer or his representative, must accompany the load. This form must contain the following information: name of the exporter; name of the consignee; in the case of cheese, the importer's cheese import licence number, a description of the dairy product and any identification marks; the number, kind, and net weight of containers; and a statement that the dairy product was manufactured from sound raw materials, was prepared under sanitary conditions, and was, at the time of shipment, sound and fit for human consumption. The statement must also accurately identify the manufacturer or authorized agent.
  5. Health and safety requirements prescribed in the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations and the Dairy Products Regulations.

At any time, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency may randomly inspect any food product to ensure that minimum requirements (composition, labelling, standard containers and health standards) are met. Non-compliant product will be detained until it meets regulatory requirements, or, if imported, it may be ordered out of the country or destroyed.

For questions on other documentation required by CBSA, please contact your local CBSA office.

Exemptions

The license / permit, grading and labelling requirements do not apply to imported dairy products if

  • the shipment does not exceed 20 kg and is not for sale in Canada, or
  • if imported for a national or an international exhibition, the shipment weighs less than 100 kg, and is not for sale.

A tariff exemption exists for imported dairy products if the total product value does not exceed $20.00 and the dairy products are for personal use.

Interprovincial Requirements

If you wish to ship dairy products interprovincially, please ensure that the following points are respected:

  1. Product is prepared in a Registered Establishment (under The Canadian Food Inspection Agency)
  2. Minimum Grade or Standard
  3. Correct Labelling - Consumer-sized products (pre-packaged) must be labelled with the information required to be shown under the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations.
  4. Health and Safety Requirements prescribed in the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations and the Dairy Products Regulations.

The establishment, grade / standard and labelling requirements do not apply if the product

  • weighs 20 kg or less;
  • is not intended for sale in Canada; or
  • has been permitted in writing by an inspector to be shipped.

Fluid milk enquiries should be directed to your provincial department of agriculture.

Minimum Grade and Standards

Grades as described in the Dairy Products Regulations exist for only the following products: cheddar cheese, butter and butter products, and dry milk products. The grade names are Canada 1, Canada 2, and Canada 3. Canada 3 grade, in the case of butter, butter products, and cheddar cheese, is a processing grade, and shall be used only for these products packed in bulk. Interprovincial or international shipments of these products must meet one of the grade requirements.

For many dairy products, standards are established in the Dairy Products Regulations. For an interprovincial or international shipment of a dairy product for which a standard is established such as "cottage cheese", the specified composition must be respected, as outlined in the Dairy Products Regulations.

Labelling Requirements and Label Review

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is responsible for labelling on products covered by the Dairy Products Regulations. Please use the following summary only as a guide to the basic labelling requirements under the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations, the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations, and the Dairy Products Regulations. These acts and regulations must be consulted for further details, since not all details are listed below. In general, prepackaged dairy products for which standards are established have the following labelling requirements:

Please note: The following information supplements the general nutritional labelling requirements under the Food and Drug Regulations.

  1. The common name;
  2. Net quantity declaration, as required by the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations;
  3. Grade name. If grade standards are prescribed for a product, the grade must be declared;
  4. A list of ingredients and their components (i.e. ingredients of ingredients) in descending order of their proportion by weight. See the Table B.01.008 (1) (b) of the Food and Drug Regulations for more details;
  5. The complete name and address of the responsible party including postal code;
  6. Dairy plant registration number as indicated in the Dairy Products Regulations for a domestic product, where the name and address shown on the label are not that of the actual establishment in which the product was packed;
  7. Country of origin on imported product preceded by the words "Product of...".
  8. Other obligatory information as stipulated in the various sets of regulations may be required depending on the nature of the food or the types of claims being made, e.g. nutritional claims;
  9. Bilingualism - all mandatory information, except that referred to in section e above, must appear in English and French;
  10. Minimum height of characters must be respected;
  11. A percentage declaration of moisture and milk fat in the case of all cheese, whey cheese and cheese curd;
  12. A percentage declaration of milk fat in the case of cottage cheese, creamed cottage cheese, sterilized cream, evaporated partly-skimmed milk or concentrated partly-skimmed milk, partly-skimmed milk powder, dairy spread and calorie-reduced butter;
  13. A batch number, code number or lot number identifying a unit of production;
  14. Source of milk, if not cow milk;
  15. The durable life date and instructions for proper storage of the dairy product;
  16. The universal product code (UPC) is not obligatory; contact GS1 Canada.
  17. The label of certain prepackaged cheeses must identify the relative firmness and the principal ripening characteristic; see the marking section of the Dairy Products Regulations for details.

If packed in bulk, the label of dairy products for which standards are established must bear the following information: the common name; the registration number; churn/vat/lot number and date of production where applicable; declaration of net contents in Canadian units, metric units, or both; in the case of cheese, an indication that it was made from pasteurized milk; the identity and principal place of business of the person by or for whom the dairy product was manufactured or produced for resale; list of ingredients as set out by the Food and Drug Regulations; the durable life and instructions for storage and "Product of" for imported product. Markings must be in either English or French. Further requirements exist for cheddar cheese packed in bulk; please consult the marking sections of the Dairy Products Regulations.

Label Review

Label review for dairy products is not obligatory; however, it is the manufacturer/importer's responsibility to comply with all labelling requirements (see above section). For labelling assistance (also involving claims) on all dairy products including those that do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Dairy Products Regulations, contact your regional Canadian Food Inspection Agency office; private consultants are also available to assist.

Registered Establishments

Dairy product marked with a grade name, shipped interprovincially or shipped within the same province to another registered plant must be prepared in an establishment registered with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. You may contact the nearest regional Canadian Food Inspection Agency offices for further information on registration requirements.

Products Regulated by the Dairy Products Regulations

Dairy Products for which grades are established: Cheddar cheese, butter and butter products, and dry milk products.

Standardized Dairy Products: Cottage cheese, creamed cottage cheese, whey cheese or (naming the variety) whey cheese, cream cheese, cream cheese with (naming the added ingredients), cream cheese spread, cream cheese spread with (naming the added ingredients), processed (naming the variety) cheese, processed (naming the variety) cheese with (naming the added ingredients), processed cheese food, processed cheese food with (naming the added ingredients), processed cheese spread, processed cheese spread with (naming the added ingredients), cold-pack (naming the variety) cheese, cold-pack (naming the variety) cheese with (naming the added ingredients), cold-pack cheese food, cold-pack cheese food with (naming the added ingredients), butter with flavour or seasoning, butter with (naming the fruit, vegetable, or relish), butter oil (clarified butter), anhydrous butter oil, mix for frozen dairy products, frozen dairy product, sherbet, milk shake mix, evaporated milk or concentrated milk, condensed milk or sweetened concentrated milk, evaporated skim milk or concentrated skim milk, evaporated partly skimmed milk or concentrated partly skimmed milk, malted milk powder, (naming the flavour) malted milk powder, sterilized milk, sterilized cream.

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