Questions and answers: Canada's beer standard

On May 1, 2019, changes to the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) regarding the beer compositional standards received final publication in the Canada Gazette, Part II.

The changes were announced in a news release and a notice to industry.

Q. What is a beer compositional standard?

Canada's compositional standards for beer, found in the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR), outline specific requirements that must be met for a product to be labelled, packaged, sold and advertised as beer in Canada.

The requirements for compositional standards under the FDR only apply when the food products are traded inter-provincially or imported into Canada.

Q. Why was it necessary to change the beer standard?

Canada's beer compositional standards were outdated. Prior to this change, the beer standards had not undergone major amendments for more than 30 years.

The previous standards did not account for innovation or technological developments within the beer category and did not reflect the changing tastes and needs of consumers (such as an increased demand for beer with new flavours, or an increased awareness of food sensitivities).

The new standard aligns with the government's commitment to regulatory reform focussed on supporting innovation under Budget 2018 and the Fall Economic Statement. The goal is to make Canada's regulatory system more agile, transparent and responsive to allow businesses to act on new opportunities.

Q. How do the changes benefit Canada's beer industry?

The changes to the FDR allow the brewing industry to use more ingredients to make beer, thereby supporting innovation and product development.

Q. How do the changes benefit consumers?

The changes will enable Canada's beer industry to create new and innovative products and gives consumers more variety in their choices when it comes to beer.

The labelling change allows consumers to make more informed choices, especially for those with food allergies, celiac disease or food sensitives.

Q. What is the new labelling requirement brewers must follow?

The modernized beer standard allows new ingredients to be used which could include food allergens that were not previously permitted in the manufacturing of beer. Therefore, the new labelling requirement requires beer labels to declare food allergens, gluten sources or added sulphites.

The declaration of these elements must either be included in the list of ingredients (which is voluntary for beer) or added as a statement (for example, "Contains: Sulphites").

Flavouring preparations also have to be declared, such as "beer with blueberry flavour."

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