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Food colour standards are in Division 6 of the FDR and colours that are acceptable for use as food additives in are listed in the list of permitted colouring agents.
For health and safety reasons, synthetic food colours must be certified by the Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada before being used in foods.
Colours are permitted to be declared in the list of ingredients of a prepackaged product by using the common names prescribed in Division 6 of the FDR, the Health Canada list of permitted colouring agents, or by using the collective class name "colour" [B.01.010(1)(b), item 3, FDR].
Rules surrounding the use of colours include:
- The term "colour" cannot be used to describe annatto, allura red or sunset yellow FCF when used in certain meat preparations;
- Annatto must be declared as "annatto" when used in the preparation of tocino [B.14.031(i), FDR];
- Annatto, allura red, and/or sunset yellow FCF must be declared as annatto, allura red, and/or sunset yellow FCF when used in the preparation of longaniza sausage [B.14.032(d)(xvi), FDR];
- The US colour common name is only acceptable when it is presented in brackets following the Canadian colour common name (e.g., "Brilliant Blue FCF (FD & C Blue No. 1)") or if it is followed by the collective class name "colour" (e.g., "FD & C Blue No. 1 colour");
- A synthetic colour for use in or upon food must display a label that carries a lot number and common name of the synthetic colour and the words "Food Colour" [B.06.004(a), FDR];
- A mixture of colours for use in or upon food must display a label that contains a lot number of the mixture and the words "Food Colour" [B.06.006, FDR];
- A preparation of colours for use in or upon food must carry the words "Food Colour Preparation" on its principal display panel (definition) B.06.007(a), FDR].
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