Standards of Identity

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A standard of identity (or compositional standard) sets out what ingredients a product must contain, what ingredients it may contain, and any requirements of manufacturing.

Standards of identity may also provide technical specifications regarding:

  • permitted food additives;
  • fortification, such as those for enriched bread, or vitamins A and D that must be added to milk);
  • in some cases, food safety requirements (microbiological, chemical or physical).


Standardized Foods

A standardized food is a food for which a standard of identity has been set in regulation. The food must comply with the specifications of the standard of identity in every respect.

Standards of identity currently exist for over 500 foods under the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR), the Meat Inspection Regulations (MIR), the Fish Inspection Regulations (FIR) and regulations under the Canada Agricultural Products Act (CAPA).

Foods with prescribed standards must include only the stated ingredients within the prescribed limits [B.01.042, FDR]. If the standard includes an ingredient to be used as a food additive, that additive must be used in accordance with the purpose and level provided for in the FDR for that food.

In Part B, Divisions 2-22 of the FDR, food standards are identified with an [S]. When names for foods appear in bold face type, these names are the prescribed common names that must be used for foods meeting the compositional standard. For more information, please refer to the section Choosing an Appropriate Common Name.

In other sets of regulations (i.e., MIR, FIR, regulations under CAPA), standards are not identified with bold face type or [S] symbols; instead, they are stated within the text.

Unstandardized Foods

Unstandardized foods are those that do not have a standard of identity or that deviate from a prescribed standard in any manner.

A food that does not meet the requirements of a standard cannot use the prescribed name for that standardized food. A modified standardized common name or another name that accurately describes the food may be used. For more information, refer to the section Modified Standardized Common Name.

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