Master Carton Labelling Requirements of Imported Fish products

August 28, 2013

To: All importers

Subject: Master carton labelling requirements of imported fish products

The intent of this notice is to provide importers with clarification on the master carton labelling requirements of imported fish products prior to their export to Canada.

The Fish Inspection Regulations (FIR) require that shipping containers are properly labelled so as to identify both the establishment and the date of packing (i.e. day, month and year) as per paragraph 6.(2)(a):

  • "6.(2) No person shall import into Canada or attempt to import into Canada any fish unless
  • (a) the identity of the establishment at which the fish is packed and the day, month and year of packing are legibly marked on one end of the carton or case in which the containers of fish are shipped"

To meet these requirements, importers must ensure that the information is securely, legibly and clearly stated on one end of the master carton or case in which the containers of fish are packed prior to export to Canada. The CFIA will not allow importers to add this information to containers after they arrive in Canada. Further guidance on the shipping container requirements can be found in Section 15.13 of the Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising.

Properly and accurately stating the identity of the establishment and date of packing is critical for traceability and food safety purposes (e.g., recalls, investigations related to food-borne illnesses, etc). Furthermore, the CFIA uses this information as part of their inspection activities to verify the identity of imported fish products.

CFIA Actions in Response to Non-Compliance

Shipping containers that are not marked with the identity of the establishment and day, month, and year of packing do not meet the FIR requirements. Therefore, distribution of these products in Canada will not be permitted as this mandatory information cannot be added or amended once the product is in Canada.  Importers will have the option to destroy or remove products from Canada.

Please note that importers who provide unacceptable notifications, or import non-compliant fish products are in violation of the Fish Inspection Regulations and may be subject to enforcement actions which can lead to license suspension, revocation or non-renewal of their import license.

If you have any questions, please contact your local CFIA office.


Terence McRae
Fish, Seafood and Production Division
Canadian Food Inspection Agency

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