Changes to Non-safety Food Packaging Regulations and Development of a Self-assessment Labelling Tool

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) inspectors will continue to perform risk-based label verification activities. The CFIA is also developing and implementing an online self-assessment labelling tool. This tool will help producers, manufacturers and retailers create compliant labels. While it is intended for industry, this new public tool may also be used by consumers to learn more about labelling and the rules companies are required to follow.

The intent of this tool is to create greater industry awareness, understanding and compliance with labelling requirements for a broad range of information such as:

  • net quantity,
  • date markings,
  • nutrition labelling,
  • bilingual labelling, and
  • legibility and location.

It is expected that this tool will reduce the amount of time CFIA staff spend working directly with industry to explain and clarify labelling rules. The CFIA expects to launch the labelling tool in 2014-2015. In the interim, industry and other stakeholders will be consulted to ensure that this new tool meets its desired outcome.

CFIA inspectors will continue to perform risk-based label verification activities to check that the information on the labels reflects what is actually in the product. For example, the CFIA may verify a product labelled as containing “0 grams of trans fat” per serving to see if the product truly contains that level. As well, the CFIA will continue to test for the potential presence of undeclared allergens in food products.

Ongoing label verification activities will continue to be carried out in many ways; through investigations into complaints, facility inspections, inspections at the retail level and laboratory testing of products, including verification of the nutrient content or calories in the food at manufacturers, importers and retailers.

In addition to developing the labelling tool, the CFIA will be removing regulations that restrict the sizes of containers for food. These regulations are outdated and limit industry innovation and consumer choices. Repealing regulations on container sizes across food commodities will provide more options for consumers and industry alike.

Food container size regulations are not related to health and safety. Changing the CFIA’s role and activities in this area allows the Agency to place a greater focus on higher priority activities including health and safety aspects of the food production and regulatory systems.