Canada’s 5-year implementation plan for nutrition labeling for listing colors and ingredients

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Emma Hayes

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Health Canada published amendments to nutrition labeling, a list of ingredients, and food color requirements of the “Food and Drug Regulations” in Canada Gazette Part II on Dec. 14, 2016. The key changes, being implemented on a 5-year schedule must be met this year. They relate to:

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

These regulatory amendments provide a 5-year transition period for regulated parties to meet the new labeling requirements, ending on Dec. 14, 2021. Amendments dealing with food color specifications and removal of the synthetic color certification requirement came into effect immediately at the time of publication of the amendments.

In the first year following the transition period, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will focus its efforts on education and compliance promotion, until Dec. 14, 2022. After that date, the CFIA will verify compliance and apply enforcement discretion in cases of non-compliance when regulated parties have a detailed plan that shows how they intend to comply at the earliest possible time, and no later than Dec. 14, 2023.

The document provides a summary of the 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 5-year transition period. Health Canada and the CFIA have developed a phased implementation plan for this transition period.

The key activities for each phase are summarized below.

Phase I (December 14, 2016 – May 10, 2018)
The publication of these amendments in Canada Gazette Part II marked the beginning of Phase I.

Phase II (May 11, 2018 – Dec. 14, 2021)
Phase II began mid-May 2018 when the role of responding to inquiries on the new requirements transitioned from Health Canada to the CFIA and continues until the end of the transition period on Dec. 14 this year. CFIA’s efforts will be directed toward education and promoting compliance with the new requirements.

Phase III (Dec. 15, 2021 – Dec. 14, 2022)
Phase III will mark the end of the transition period. The former regulations cease to be in effect as of Dec. 15 this year. During this phase, CFIA will continue to focus on education and promoting compliance with the new requirements.

Compliance and enforcement after Dec. 14, 2022
CFIA inspection activities will monitor compliance with the new labeling requirements for prepackaged products imported, manufactured in Canada, or packaged at retail after Dec. 14, 2022. However, the CFIA will apply enforcement discretion in cases where regulated parties have a detailed plan showing how they intend to meet the new requirements at the earliest possible time, and no later than Dec. 14, 2023.

A “detailed plan” could be similar to a corrective action plan that regulated parties provide in response to a report of noncompliance, however, has a compliance date no later than Dec. 14, 2023. Refer to the example of a corrective action(s) record for guidance on an acceptable plan.

Regulated parties must comply with the new labeling provisions after the compliance date of Dec. 14, 2022, or any other date established in their detailed plan. Products imported, manufactured in Canada, or packaged at retail before that date can remain in the warehouse and continue to be sold on store shelves.

Throughout all phases of the implementation plan, including the 2 years after the end of the transition period, the CFIA may take action in cases of inaccurate, false, or misleading labeling information. In addition, 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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author

Emma Hayes

There I was in a hot yoga studio with plenty of bright natural light and bending myself into pretzel like positions for the very first time.

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