Implementation Plan for Amendments to the Food and Drug Regulations Related to Nutrition Labelling, List of Ingredients and Food Colours

Introduction

Health Canada published amendments to nutrition labelling, list of ingredients and food colour requirements of the Food and Drug Regulations (Regulations) in Canada Gazette Part II on December 14, 2016. The key changes relate to:

  • new requirements regarding the legibility of the list of ingredients;
  • grouping of sugars in the list of ingredients;
  • various changes to information contained in the Nutrition Facts table (NFt);
  • new requirements for how food colours are declared;
  • removal of the requirement for certification of synthetic colours;
  • incorporation by reference of daily values, templates for the NFt formats, reference amounts, serving sizes and most food colour specifications.

These regulatory amendments provide a five (5) year transition periodFootnote 1 for regulated parties to meet the new labelling requirements. Amendments dealing with food colour specifications and removal of the synthetic colour certification requirement come into effect immediately.

This document provides a summary of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada's multi-year implementation plan during this transition period.

Overview

Regulated parties may apply either the former Regulations or the new Regulations over the five (5) year transition periodFootnote 1 . Health Canada and the CFIA have developed an implementation plan for this transition period that includes three (3) phases.

The key activities for each phase are summarized below.

Phase I

The publication of these amendments in Canada Gazette Part II marked the beginning of Phase I.

Key Activities

  • Tools and Training - CFIA updated its web guidance and tools to reflect the requirements under the new Regulations, while maintaining guidance and tools that reflect the requirements under the former Regulations. During the transition period, two sets of guidance and tools will therefore be available on the CFIA website. In March 2017, Health Canada, in collaboration with CFIA, delivered technical webinars for external stakeholders and updated its web guidance. CFIA developed and delivered an information session to staff.
  • Inquiries - Health Canada responded to inquiries on the new requirements and their intent. CFIA addressed inquiries related to compliance and enforcement.
  • Compliance and Enforcement - CFIA inspection activities focused on the availability (presence on the label) and accuracy of mandatory information (such as values declared in the NFt, validity of claims and ingredients declaration, including allergens), regardless of the former or new labelling requirements being followed by the manufacturer. Health Canada conducted health risk assessments in support of CFIA's compliance activities and provided guidance on the interpretation of these regulatory amendments.

Phase II (currently)

Phase II begins mid May 2018, when the role of responding to inquiries on the new requirements transitions from Health Canada to CFIA, and continues until the end of the transition period.

Key Activities

  • Tools and Training - Self-serve training and tools will be available to CFIA staff so they can respond to inquiries and carry out inspection activities.
  • Inquiries - For all food labelling questions, including those related to the new requirements, the primary resource will be the Industry Labelling Tool. Any additional questions will be directed to a CFIA local office.
  • Compliance and Enforcement - CFIA inspection activities will focus on the availability and accuracy of mandatory information, regardless of the former or new labelling requirements being followed by the manufacturer. Health Canada will conduct health risk assessments in support of CFIA's compliance activities and continue to provide guidance on the interpretation of these regulatory amendments.

Phase III

Phase III will begin at the end of the transition period.

Key Activities

  • Tools and Training - CFIA guidance and tools available on the CFIA website will solely reflect the requirements under the new Regulations. CFIA will integrate content related to the new Regulations into ongoing labelling training, including training delivered to new staff.
  • Inquiries - For all food labelling questions, including those related to the new requirements, the primary resource will be the Industry Labelling Tool. Any additional questions will be directed to a CFIA local office.
  • Compliance and Enforcement - CFIA inspection activities will monitor compliance with the new labelling requirements. Information presented in accordance with the former requirements will no longer be compliant. Health Canada will conduct health risk assessments in support of CFIA's compliance activities and continue to provide guidance on the interpretation of these regulatory amendments.

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