About the Food Labelling Modernization Initiative

Objective

The objective of the CFIA's Food Labelling Modernization initiative is to develop a more modern food labelling system within CFIA mandate that responds to current and future challenges by engaging stakeholders and linking with other modernization initiatives.

Context

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is continually evolving to meet the challenges of a complex and ever-changing food environment, one that continues to promote food safety, consumer protection and a fair and secure marketplace. As safe as our food supply is, we must always strive for improvement.

In Canada, responsibility for food labelling at the federal level is shared between Health Canada and the CFIA.

  • Health Canada is responsible for establishing policies, regulations and standards relating to the health, safety and nutritional quality of food sold in Canada.
  • The CFIA is responsible for enforcing the policies and regulations that are developed by Health Canada.
  • The CFIA also administers and enforces non-health and safety policies and regulations.

Health Canada is modernizing its food regulatory framework as part of The Regulatory Roadmap for Health Products and Food.

  • It has modernized its food additives regulatory system, using new authorities under the Food and Drugs Act.
  • It has published in Canada Gazette, Part I proposed regulations to improve the format and content of the Nutrition Facts table and ingredient list, and information on sugars and colouring agents.
  • It will make regulations more efficient in other areas, such as food fortification, health/nutrition claims and labelling, and contaminants.

CFIA Transformation

The CFIA is committed to continuously improving itself as an organization in order to better meet the needs of stakeholders such as consumers, industry and international trading partners. Through various CFIA Transformation initiatives, the Agency will improve how it delivers its programs and activities. This includes:

  • Bringing into force the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) through new regulations—the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations. This will reinforce the CFIA's commitment to strengthening Canada's world-class food safety system.
  • Transforming how the CFIA does its business, for example, through initiatives such as:

Why modernize food labelling?

We have seen a number of changes in the area of food labelling. For example

  • Consumers want to become more informed about the food products they purchase for themselves and their families.
  • The food industry continues to be innovative, and adapts in response to market pressures and global trends.
  • The government is looking to keep pace with innovation, emerging trends and challenges, by modernizing regulations, policies, and approaches, enhancing service delivery and developing appropriate tools to effectively respond to these.

With these changes that are taking place, we recognize the importance to strive for a balance between consumer, industry and government needs.

Key areas

The Food Labelling Modernization initiative focusses on specific areas of food labelling that fall under the CFIA's responsibility.

Specifically, this initiative focusses on the following four key areas that are important to the foundation of our food labelling system.

  1. roles, responsibilities and partnerships
  2. regulations
  3. policy and program development
  4. service delivery

Guiding principles

The following principles are guiding this initiative:

  • focus on increasing efficiency and becoming more effective
  • align with Health Canada and other CFIA transformation initiatives
  • promote and maintain trust and confidence in the government
  • promote consumer protection and compliance in the marketplace
  • ensure harmonization with international trade agreements

Focus

Overall focus

  • all foods, as well as CFIA food labelling frameworks and regulatory, program design and service delivery systems
  • all foods include: imported, domestic, retail; consumer packaged or bulk, further manufacturing

Details of what is in the initiative's focus are in the 2013 Phase I discussion paper. They are broken down according to the initiative's four key areas and include examples.

If we receive comments on other issues that fall outside the focus, we direct such comments to the appropriate organization that holds responsibility for them.

Consultation

The CFIA launched the Food Labelling Modernization initiative in 2013. A multi-phase consultation approach was adopted:

To get a balanced understanding of views, the CFIA's consultations to date have included a wide range of stakeholders, including:

  • consumers and consumer groups
  • industry and industry associations
  • academia
  • CFIA employees
  • other government departments
  • provincial and territorial governments
  • international partners

The CFIA will continue to engage stakeholders in the coming months on the Food Labelling Modernization initiative's key proposals to modernize the food labelling system.

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