ARCHIVED - Modernizing Food Labelling

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  • Provide an update on the progress of federal food labelling modernization initiatives, including:
    • what has been heard in engagements; and
    • how CFIA and Health Canada are aligning
  • Outline next steps
  • Obtain your views on the issues identified through our engagement activities, including:
    • prioritizing issues
    • identifying any gaps
    • approach going forward

Context: Modernizing Food Labelling

  • Food Labelling is a shared responsibility between CFIA and Health Canada (see Annex 1).
  • The CFIA's Food Labelling Modernization (FLM) and Health Canada's Nutrition Labelling initiatives are part of efforts to modernize food labelling, and are directly linked to and support Government of Canada commitments, including:
    • improved safety oversight
    • stronger food safety and nutrition rules and programs
    • informed choice for consumers
    • more effective inspection
    • renewed commitment to service
    • better international market opportunities
    • increased regulatory cooperation and alignment
  • Labelling efforts are also linked to other federal initiatives:
    • regulatory modernization (under SFCA and FDA)
    • food standards modernization
    • compliance promotion
    • online Labelling Tool
    • centres of Expertise
    • integrated Agency Inspection Model (iAIM)
    • education and awareness campaigns (e.g., Healthy Eating, Nutrition Facts (NF) Education)

FLM: Objectives and Focus


  • Develop a modern and innovative food labelling system that:
    • provides a better understanding of roles and responsibilities and continuous improvement as it relates to partnerships with other government departments such as Health Canada and with consumers and industry
    • appropriately responds to consumer and industry needs around food labeling
    • promotes smarter regulations and risk-based oversight by Government
    • improves service delivery such as in relation to inquiries and availability of labelling information and tools


  • Will include all foods, as well as the review of CFIA food labelling frameworks and regulatory, program design and delivery systems
  • Health Canada and CFIA will actively co-ordinate their efforts to modernize food labelling

FLM: Key Areas of Focus

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Image - Food Labelling Modernization: Key Areas of Focus Description follows.

Description of Image – FLM: Key Areas of Focus

This table shows the four areas of responsibility that the initiative is focused on, along with the outcomes associated with those areas.

At the top of the table is a vision statement that is overarching for the initiative. The vision is to design an innovative and modern food labeling system, trusted and respected by Canadians and the international community.

There are 4 areas of focus, and each has an associated outcomes:

The first Area of Focus is Roles and Responsibilities. The outcome is stronger food safety system through improved collaboration and communication between consumers, industry, and government; and more information for consumers.

The second Area of Focus is Regulations. The outcome is stronger food safety and labelling rules, for example by modernizing compositional standards; improving the way that nutrition information is presented on labels; reducing regulatory red tape; and strengthening international market opportunities.

The third Area of Focus is Policy and Program Development. The outcome is improved food policies and programs that are based on risk, to promote and facilitate partnerships, and support consistency to enhance compliance.

The fourth Area of Focus is Service Delivery. The outcome is renewed commitment to service and improved food oversight through more effective inspection, better training and more modern tools.

FLM: Key Issues Identified

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Image - Food Labelling Modernization: Key issues identified Description follows.

Description of Image - FLM: Key issues identified

The graphic demonstrates the key issues identified in the 4 key areas of focus.

We heard from over 1,300 stakeholders in Phase I of FLM Engagement (See Annexes 2 & 3)

At the top are two sets of key government outcomes. One set of outcomes are these: improved safety oversight, stronger food safety and nutrition rules and programs, informed choices for consumers and more effective inspection.

Under that set of outcomes are two areas of focus, which are role and responsibilities and then regulations.

Under Roles and Responsibilities, two items are list, which are:

  • Unclear roles and responsibilities of stakeholders (e.g. between CFIA and HC; consumers and industry)
  • Not enough involvement of industry and consumers in non-health and safety

Under Regulations, two items are listed, which are:

  • Many regulations are: unclear, complex, duplicated, inconsistent
  • A number of regulations do not meet current market practices, and/or industry and consumer needs

The second set of key government outcomes are renewed commitment to service, better international market opportunities, and increased regulatory cooperation and alignment. Under that are two areas of focus, which are policy and program development and then service delivery.

Under Policy and Program Development, three items are listed, which are:

  • Interpretation and enforcement of the law on 'false and misleading' can be difficult
  • Policy development is not timely and/or inclusive
  • Policies do not always provide the guidance and information needed

Under Service Delivery, four items are listed, which are:

  • Website is not well organized
  • Information, training and tools are inconsistent and limited
  • Enforcement and complaints follow-up are not always consistent and transparent
  • Responses to inquiries are at times late and do not respond to the question
  • Too many information systems; and they need to be modernized

FLM: Phase II Proposed Integrated Engagement


  • Engage stakeholders on options to address the issues identified in Phase I


  • Strengthen our partnership and alignment with Health Canada
  • Focus on consumers, industry, government – aiming to achieve a balanced perspective
  • Will use various approaches to engagement:
    • Healthy and Safe Food Regulatory Forum – June 2014
    • Online questionnaire with discussion paper that outlines proposed options for addressing issues
    • Face-to-face and webinar integrated engagement sessions
    • Bilateral and committee meetings

HC: Nutrition Labelling - Progress Since Speech from the Throne

  • Consultation process launched on January 28, 2014 by Minister of Health and Parliamentary Secretary by:
    • holding roundtable with Canadian parents in Ottawa and announcing subsequent roundtables across Canada (January – April 2014)
    • launching online consultation on HC website (January – April 2014)
  • Multifaceted consultation plan developed which includes engagement opportunities with stakeholders to build on roundtables:
    • Listening Phase: Gather input from parents on key nutrition information features of food labels that help/hinder consumers in making healthy choices
    • Options Phase: Consider what was heard during the listening phase and probe possible directions for improving nutrition labelling with stakeholders and consumers
    • Directions Phase: Refine proposed changes based on consultations and other relevant input (e.g. CFIA's labelling consultations, international considerations) and evidence

HC: Nutrition Labelling - Key Issues Identified

Listening Phase:

  • Received over 2400 responses through online consultation
  • Early analysis of comments raised during roundtables and through online consultation include:
    • Serving size inconsistency, core nutrients of interest (e.g., potassium, sugar), understanding daily values (DV) and % DV (understanding/using the Nutrition Facts table), and use of front of pack information programs and health claims
    • In addition, participants/respondents raised other labelling issues such as:
      • Labelling of allergens and food sensitivities etc.
      • Labelling of genetically modified foods, country of origin etc.
      • Need for more consumer education on effective use of nutrition information
  • Generally consistent with understanding based on earlier engagement, known issues, and FLM feedback

Next Steps

  • Draft options to address issues and prepare for Phase II FLM engagement
  • Begin Phase II of FLM engagement on options
  • Consult with broader stakeholder community on proposed changes to improve nutrition information
  • Test nutrition labelling options with stakeholders (e.g. parents, consumers)
  • Continue to coordinate and align CFIA and Health Canada modernization activities, where possible


  1. What are your impressions of the key issues identified through HC and CFIA engagements? What issues might be missing from the list?
  2. Of the issues identified, which ones are the highest priority in each of the key areas?
  3. What are your comments on the strategy for upcoming engagement?
  4. In what way(s) is it most important for CFIA and HC to align their labelling modernization efforts?


  • By email:
  • By mail:

    Strategic Partnerships Division
    1400 Merivale Road, Tower 1
    Floor 6, Suite 218
    Ottawa, ON K1A 0Y9
    Attn: Linda Webster

  • By fax: 613-773-5606
  • To stay connected with the CFIA, sign up to our Listserv

Annex 1: Responsibilities for Food Labeling

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Image - Responsibilities for food labeling Description follows.

Description of Image - Responsibilities for food labeling

At the federal government level, the responsibility for food labelling requirements is shared between Health Canada and CFIA.

Health Canada establishes policies, regulations and standards relating to the health, safety and nutritional quality of food sold in Canada and provides complementary information to consumers through education and awareness, information updates, and publications. The October 2013 Speech from the Throne listed the commitment to consult Canadian parents on ways to improve nutrition information on food labels

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency enforces the policies and regulations that are developed by Health Canada and administers and enforces non-health and safety policies and regulations. In June 2013, the CFIA launched the Food Labelling Modernization (FLM) initiative.

Annex 2: FLM - Who We Heard From

  • Since we met with you last year, we have consulted with a diverse group of stakeholders.
  • Over 1,300 stakeholders participated in a series of FLM engagement activities.
Image - Food Labelling Modernization - Who we heard from Description follows.
Description of Image - Food Labelling Modernization - Who we heard from

The pie chart shows the demographics of those who participated. The largest group is consumers at 41 percent, followed by Government at 23 percent, then Industry and Industry Associations at 28 percent. Other (includes academia, consultants, etc.) is at 4 percent, then Health Professionals at 3 percent and finally Consumer Associations at 1 percent.

Annex 3: FLM Progress Since June 2013

Since we met with you last year, we have consulted with over 1,300 stakeholdersTable Note * at the following events:
Event Dates Who Participated
Internal Engagement Sessions Spring 2013 164 CFIA StaffTable Note *
CFIA Food Safety Regulatory Forum June 2013 200+ stakeholders overall, 110 participated in FLMTable Note *
FLM Online Engagement June to September 2013 704 responses received (mostly from consumers)Table Note *
Canadian Food Inspection Agency Transformation Webinars (18 Sessions) August to November 2013 900+ participants including internal and external stakeholders
Integrated Food Labelling / Regulatory Modernization Engagement Sessions (5 locations across Canada—with Health Canada representation) October 2013 327 external stakeholdersTable Note * and 93 CFIA staffTable Note *
Focussed engagement on labelling regulations (online survey) Dec 30, 2013 to Jan 31, 2014 21 stakeholder responsesTable Note *

Table Notes

Table note *

Stakeholders in FLM engagements

Return to first table note * referrer

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