Ask CFIA

Ask CFIA will provide industry with one point of entry to ask questions to help you understand and comply with regulatory requirements. Learn more - about Ask CFIA.

The CFIA understands that access to information is key for industry to understand and comply with regulatory requirements. The CFIA website is a great resource for guidance documents and plain language information. Sign up for email notifications for regular updates.

Are you looking for:

Guidance about program requirements? Search the Guidance Document Repository.

Information about Acts and Regulations? Read the Acts and Regulations page.

Sector specific information? See your options on the Food page.

Frequently Asked Questions

These frequently asked questions (with answers) respond to commonly asked industry questions on policies, programs, and regulations.

We will continue to add questions and answers over time as we continue to roll out this service to different sectors, so bookmark this page for future reference.

General

What is a Ministerial Exemption, and how do I apply for one?

A Ministerial Exemption is issued under certain circumstances to allow for the movement of a non-compliant product across provincial or national borders.

Requests for Minister Exemptions can be submitted through the Centre of Administration.

What is a test market exemption?

Under limited circumstances, foods may be eligible for an exemption from certain regulatory requirements for the purposes of test marketing a product. Under these circumstances, companies may request an authorization to test market a product that is not in compliance with:

  • bilingual labelling requirements of the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations (CPLR);
  • standard container sizes requirements in the CPLR; and
  • certain provisions of the Processed Products Regulations (PPR)

Other commodities, such as honey and fresh fruits and vegetables may also be eligible for test market exemptions. Please refer to the Industry Labelling Tool for more information.

A Test Market Food is only exempt from certain regulatory provisions and must comply with applicable legislation in all other respects.

For more information on Test Market Exemptions and how to request them, please consult the labelling tool.

What are the Canadian requirements for listeria testing?

Testing for listeria should be conducted according to any method published in the Health Canada Compendium of Analytical Methods (CAM).

Ready-to-eat (RTE) fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, with a shelf life of more than 5 days and without validation data, are considered to be a category 1 product under Health Canada's Policy on Listeria monocytogenes on Ready-to-Eat Foods (2011). Category 1 contains products in which the growth of Listeria monocytogenes can occur and they receive the highest priority for industry verification and control, as well as regulatory oversight and compliance activities.

Processors should implement effective Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system to minimize all potential sources of food contamination and routine monitoring sampling (environmental and end-product).

Labelling

See Frequently Asked Questions: Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations for general information about labelling regulations.

Industry Labelling Tool

The Industry Labelling Tool provides a clear and detailed breakdown of labelling requirements in order to assist industry compliance with legislation and consumer protection requirements. It includes information on Food Products that Require a Label, General Principles for Labelling and Advertising and a Labelling Requirements Checklist.

See the Frequently Asked Questions: Industry Labelling Tool for more information.

What are the federal regulations pertaining to labelling that apply to food products?

When sold in Canada, food products are subject to the labelling requirements under the Food and Drugs Act (FDA), the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act (CPLA) and their respective regulations, the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations (CPLR).

The following products are exempt from all requirements of the CPLA:

  • Prepackaged products that are produced or manufactured for commercial or industrial enterprises or institutions for use by such enterprises or institutions without being sold by them as prepackaged products to other consumers.
  • Prepackaged products that are produced or manufactured only for export or for sale to a duty-free store.

Requirements under the FDA are applicable at all levels of trade. Other federal acts and regulations pertaining to labelling that apply to food products include:

Other federal legislation that could be relevant to labelling and advertising of food products includes:

What are best before dates?

There are different types of date labelling requirements for pre-packaged food. "Best before" dates and proper storage instructions (if they differ from normal room temperature) must appear on pre-packaged foods that will keep fresh for 90 days or less, and are packaged at a place other than the retail store from which they are sold. Retail-packaged foods that have a shelf life date of 90 days or less must be labelled with the packaging date (known as "packaged on" date) and the durable life of the food on the label or on a poster next to the food.

The legislation about best before dates is under the Food and Drugs Act B.01.007

The Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) currently require that, with certain exceptions, pre-packaged foods with a shelf life of 90 days or less be labelled with either a 'best before' date and instructions for proper storage, or a 'packaged on' date and shelf life information. Foods with a shelf life of longer than that do not require best before dates.

Complete information on food labelling can be found in the Industry Labelling Tool.

Specific to date labelling (e.g. best before dates).

What are Standards of Identity and how are they applied?

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 about:

  • 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).

Standards of identity currently exist for over 500 foods under the Food and Drug Regulations, the Meat Inspection Regulations, the Fish Inspection Regulations and regulations under the Canada Agricultural Products Act. Some examples are cheddar cheese, jam, olive oil, bread and flour, coffee and tea, meat products, honey, maple syrup, and pickles.

The food producer is responsible for checking the regulations to determine if a standard applies to their product.

What is a brand name and what are the requirements?

Coined names, trade names, brand names or company names used as brand names are subject to all provisions of the Food and Drugs Act and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act, whether or not they are registered or trade-marked.

For example, the use of a "natural" claim in a trademark would require the food to meet the guidelines for Nature, Natural.

For more information on brand names, refer to Common Names.

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Fish and Seafood

General

How do I know the common name of my fish species?

Common names for fish in Canada are determined with the Canadian values of fairness and honesty in the marketing of the fish.

A common name of fish species is defined as:

The CFIA Fish List serves as a collection of French and English common names recognized by legislation and/or by which the fish is generally known. This list provides the French and English common names for the labelling of fish in Canada.

Anyone seeking an amendment (deletion or addition) to the CFIA fish list may submit a written request to the local CFIA inspection office in accordance with Guidance on Determining the Common Names for Fish Sold or Processed In Canada.

The CFIA will review all proposals and assess using criteria outlined in Guidance on Determining the Common Names for Fish Sold or Processed In Canada.

How do I register my fish plant?

The application for the registration of fish processing establishments is available from the CFIA Quality Management Program.

Can fish products be treated with carbon monoxide?

The use of carbon monoxide in fish products has not been approved for use in Canada.

What fish additives can be used in Canada?

The Guide to Additives Permitted in Fish and Fish Products prescribes additives, and maximum levels permitted, in the various categories of fish and fish products sold in Canada.

You can access the database for the List of Permitted Additives in Fish and Fish Products to search for the section of the Food and Drug Regulations relevant to the additive, the purpose of the additive and the level of use for that additive. In certain instances, the level of use is linked to a comments page containing information on restrictions for the use of that additive.

See the Lists of Permitted Food Additives, Health Canada's official repository of substances that are permitted for use as additives in or on foods marketed in Canada.

How do I know if a shellfish area is open or closed for harvesting?

For the latest information about openings and closures in your area, refer to the Fisheries and Oceans Canada Shellfish harvesting closures.

Before harvesting any bivalve molluscan shellfish, ensure that the area you wish to harvest is in the "open" status. It is illegal and unsafe to harvest bivalve molluscan shellfish from an area that is in the "closed" status.

The goal of the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program (CSSP) is to protect Canadians from the health risks associated with the consumption of contaminated bivalve molluscan shellfish such as mussels, clams, scallops, etc.

How do I apply for an exemption permit from a requirement of the Fish Inspection Act or Fish Inspection Regulations?

You may apply for an exemption permit, provided that you are:

  • a holder of a fish export or import licence;
  • an operator of a registered establishment as defined under the Fish Inspection Regulations; or
  • an operator of a non-registered establishment, provided that information is available to prove that foods are processed under sanitary conditions and that final products are safe and wholesome.

You must provide a reason for the exemption, which must meet the requirements outlined in the Fish Products Inspection Manual, Chapter 2, Subject 7.

Fish exports:

  • in cases of health and safety (e.g., non-permitted additives), the exporter must submit to the CFIA inspection office the appropriate documentation from the competent authorities of the importing country. The documentation must show confirmation that the label/product that is the subject of the exemption request, meets the importing country regulations; and
  • in all other cases (e.g., quality designations, grades), the exporter must have in their possession and available for audit, the related specification from the importing country's authorities or from the buyer.

Domestic

What is a domestic movement control permit and how do I know if I need one?

The goal of the domestic movement control program/permit is to protect Canada's aquatic animal resources by preventing the spread of diseases. For trade purposes, areas declared free and provisionally free from infection help trade.

A CFIA movement permit is required if the declared aquatic animal or thing (e.g. carcass of an aquatic animal, dead fertilized eggs) is moving from:

  • a declared infected area to a declared buffer area, provisionally-free area or free area;
  • a declared buffer area to another declared buffer area, provisionally-free area or free area; and
  • a declared provisionally-free area to a declared free area.

Read more about Aquatic Animal Domestic Movements

What is disease freedom testing and when should I do one?

Disease freedom is a description of an individual aquatic animal, a defined population of aquatic animals, country, region, zone or compartment that can demonstrate, with an accepted statistical level of confidence, a small likelihood of the presence of one or more reportable diseases.

Disease freedom testing is required whenever a domestic movement control permit is required or when exporting aquatic animals as demanded by the importing countries' negotiated certificates with the Government of Canada.

What are the bacteriological guidelines for the control of Vibrio parahaemolyticus in raw oysters in Canada?

The bacteriological guidelines for the control of Vibrio parahaemolyticus in raw oysters is an appendix to the Fish Products Standards and Methods Manual. The manual is an aid in the interpretation of the Fish Inspection Regulations.

Also have a look at Managing the risks of Vibrio parahaemolyticus in Raw Oysters.

Import

Fish and seafood products shipped into Canada from any other country for commercial purposes as food for people or for further processing are considered imports. You can view CFIA's Fish Import Program for more information.

You can review import requirements for specific products using the CFIA Automated Import Reference System (AIRS). Follow the appropriate prompts and you will be able to determine current requirements, based on the type of product / size of shipment you want to import.

You can review the Guide to Importing Food Products Commercially for more information.

You may also want to review Good Importing Practices for Food.

Who imports fish into Canada?

The Marketing and Industry Services Branch of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada have an on-line database of importers where you can search for a supplier.

Export

How do I and what do I need to know about exporting fish from Canada?

CFIA regulates the export of fish and seafood products. Fish and Seafood – Exports reference materials provides you with information that you need to know about exporting fish from Canada.

Exporters are responsible to ensure that fish products exported from Canada comply with the import requirements of foreign countries. Visit the Certification of Fish and Seafood Products page of the CFIA website for more information.

Exporters are encouraged to check with the destination country for any additional requirements.

CFIA is responsible for regulating fish and seafood exports. The Fish Export Directive lays out the Canadian regulatory requirements for exporting fish and seafood products from Canada for commercial purposes and human consumption and describes the responsibilities of the exporter.

Fish product must originate from a registered fish processing establishment. There are regulatory exceptions for live lobster, live crabs and some products from fisher-packers. Contact your local CFIA office for more information.

How do I obtain a fish export licence?

The Fish Export License Directive outlines the requirements which you must meet in order to obtain a fish export license, including the application form and directions on how to submit it.

Depending on the type of fish export activities, an export certification control plan may be needed to be completed and submitted to CFIA before an export licence is issued. The Export Certification Control Program Reference Standard can help you complete an export certification control plan.

I want to export my fish product to country "X". Do I need a certificate? If so, which certificate do I need?

Canada's international trading partners often require certification from CFIA showing fish and seafood exports comply with Canadian food safety requirements or the food safety requirements of their country. Check the Export Information by Jurisdiction website for more information about specific country certification requirements.

Federally-registered fish establishments must complete the Export Certification Control Program (ECCP) Plan - Attestation for Registered Establishments form and send it to their local CFIA office.

For non-registered establishments of live and/or fresh fish, certificates require a licence and an ECCP plan. An Application for a Fish Import Licence and a copy of the ECCP plan must be submitted to the local CFIA office.

Exporters must also comply with any additional requirements imposed by the importing country. Such requirements could include that the exporter be licensed in Canada and/or be on an export eligibility list.

The Export Certification Control Program Reference Standard provides the information you need to develop an export certification control program (ECCP) to ensure fish products for export comply with the Fish Inspection Regulations (FIR) and with additional foreign requirements which may apply.

What are the certification requirements for foreign countries?

Exporters are responsible to ensure that fish products exported from Canada comply with the import requirements of foreign countries. Visit the Certification of Fish and Seafood Products page of the CFIA website for more information.

CFIA supports industry by collecting as much information as possible on various countries' certification requirements. The information available to the CFIA can be found on the Export Information By Jurisdiction web page.

Exporters are encouraged to check with the destination country for any additional requirements.

What is an export list and how does a registered fish processing establishment or a licensed exporter get on it?

An export list is a database of those establishments or licenced exporters in good standing with the CFIA and who meet all of the relevant requirements of the Fish Inspection Regulations.

The CFIA maintains a database which may be used to determine eligibility for export to the United States and Brazil.

A list of approved Canadian exporters is available through the searchable database.

Export lists for certified shellfish dealers approved to export to Japan and exporters of live lobster products to Japan can be accessed through the Export Information By Jurisdiction.

The CFIA works with five jurisdictions that maintain lists of facilities eligible to import into those jurisdictions. These jurisdictions include: the People's Republic of China, the European Union, Vietnam, the Russian FederationFootnote 1 and the United States of America (including the Interstate Certified Shellfish Shippers List).

To request inclusion on any of the approved lists, review the information available in the Export Information By Jurisdiction web page and contact your local CFIA office

What are the regulatory requirements which must be met in order to operate an establishment which processes and exports fish products?

The processing of fish intended for interprovincial or international export may only be conducted in an establishment which holds a valid certificate of registration issued pursuant to the requirements of the Fish Inspection Regulations of Canada. Section 14 establishes the definition of 'processing' as it relates to the export of fish products.

To obtain a certificate of registration, an application must be submitted to the CFIA's Centre of Administration for Permissions. The application process and the regulatory requirements are outlined in the Facilities Inspection Manual.

Labelling

Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations

Read the Frequently Asked Questions: Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations for general information.

Industry Labelling Tool

The Industry Labelling Tool is a tool to assist industry compliance with legislation and consumer protection. It includes information on Food Products that Require a Label, General Principles for Labelling and Advertising and Labelling Requirements Checklist.

For general information, read the Labelling Requirements for Fish and Fish Products.

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Dairy

General

For Frequently asked questions: Dairy Products Regulations, see the CFIA website.

What is a federally-registered dairy establishment?

Any dairy business in Canada whose product will be imported, exported or moved across provinces must be registered with the CFIA. To become federally registered with the CFIA, dairy establishments must meet the requirements of our Dairy Establishment Inspection Manual.

What is the list of HACCP/FSEP recognized dairy establishments?

The Food Safety Enhancement Program (FSEP) is the CFIA's approach to encourage and support the use of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems in all federally registered establishments. HACCP is voluntary for the federally-registered dairy sector. A listing of all HACCP/FSEP recognized dairy establishments can be found on the CFIA website, Dairy Products - HACCP / FSEP Recognized Establishments.

Can hormones be used in dairy products?

Hormones are not approved for use in dairy cattle in Canada and cannot be used in any form in dairy products, including through the feed or water.

Hormonal growth promoters are not approved for use in any species other than beef cattle. Hormones occur naturally in all animals and regulate an animal's bodily functions.

Health Canada is responsible for assessing the safety and efficacy of veterinary drugs including hormonal growth promoters for use in food animals.

Health Canada sets standards, maximum residue limits for residues of medications including synthetic hormones.

Are dairy products that contain oils (vegetable, canola, coconut oil, etc.) regulated under the Dairy Products Regulations?

No. A dairy product under the Dairy Products Regulations must not contain a fat or oil other than milk fat.

I heard that milk and dairy products from the USA contain growth hormones and certain drugs which are banned here. Why does the Government allow these products in?

Food safety is of major importance to the Government of Canada. All food products, whether domestic or imported, must be in compliance with Canada's food safety standards under the Food and Drugs Act, which are established by Health Canada and enforced by the CFIA.

Because of animal health concerns, the use of the growth hormone Bovine Somatotropine (rBST) is not approved by Health Canada for the treatment of dairy cows. However, Health Canada permits dairy products from animals treated with rBST to be sold because no human health concerns have been identified.

The use of antibiotics for human and animal use in Canada is regulated by Health Canada.

A veterinary drug must be correctly dosed and administered, and the withdrawal period must be observed so that they do not cause non-compliant residues in milk and milk products.

The CFIA tests a variety of foods, imported and domestic, for chemical residues (such as glyphosate) and contaminants as part of its National Chemical Residue Monitoring Program. The compliance rate is very high (97% compliant) for antibiotic and pesticide residues in food sold in Canada.

Domestic

What are the requirements for potable water used in a registered dairy facility?

Health Canada establishes the national standards for potable water. See the National Guidelines for Drinking Water. Further guidance may also be applicable as per provincial regulations.

Can a producer separate milk on the farm and ship cream across provinces to other federally-registered establishments?

Yes, farm separated cream may be shipped inter-provincially and accepted at federally registered dairies provided it meets provincial requirements for the on-farm separation.

See the list of related sites – provinces and territories

Import

Can I import dairy?

Yes, you can import up to 20 kg per person of personal imports of dairy products (with the exception of those packed in whey) into Canada. Quantities over $20.00 may be subject to high rates of duty.

Review import requirements for specific products using the CFIA's Automated Import Reference System (AIRS). Follow the appropriate prompts to determine current requirements, based on the type of product/size of shipment you want to import.

The CFIA has prepared the Guide to Importing Food Products Commercially.

You may also want to review Good Importing Practices for Food.

Export

What do I need to know about exporting dairy products from Canada?

Start with the Canadian Export Requirements for Dairy Products which provides a good overview of what you need to know.

The CFIA regulates the export of dairy products. To be eligible to export dairy products for human consumption, your dairy establishment must be federally registered and meet defined standards as well as any additional foreign country requirements.

The CFIA also regulates dairy products to protect animal health and, where applicable, verify that dairy products exported from Canada will not spread animal health diseases.

Access to international markets is facilitated by CFIA through negotiating agreements with trading partners, identifying export requirements for key import countries, certifying that dairy exports are safe and acceptable for human consumption, and providing technical assistance to resolve trade disruptions where possible.

In some cases, countries require establishment and product approval before allowing imports. The time and effort for approval varies from one country to the next, and is not fully within CFIA's control. You should know the market you wish to export to and whether it requires establishment and product approval so that you can take appropriate actions when negotiating with its business partners.

The CFIA has several country-specific certificates that were developed through working with Canada's trading partners to set requirements for Canadian dairy products.

The CFIA can also provide standardized export certificates. These certificates prove compliance with Canadian regulatory requirements. You should take appropriate precautions to verify that a standardized certificate will satisfy importing country requirements to avoid delays in clearing your products, and the possibility of them being returned to Canada if the CFIA is not able to provide a certificate that is acceptable to the importing country.

The CFIA will not issue certificates for products after they have been shipped from Canada.

Contact your local CFIA office for more details on requirements to obtain an export certificate.

Labelling

The Industry Labelling Tool is a tool to assist industry compliance with legislation and consumer protection. It includes information on Food Products that Require a Label, General Principles for Labelling and Advertising and Labelling Requirements Checklist.

See Labelling Requirements for Dairy Products.

How do I label modified milk products?

You can label modified milk products by using the term "modified milk ingredients" on the label if your product is made with a mixture of milk by-products (such as whey) and includes a dairy ingredient origin (such as skim or whole milk).

Rather than list the individual ingredients, use a generic description that allows for the formulation to be changed later without having to redesign the label.

The modified milk ingredients are defined in Section 7.1, Section B.01.010 (3) of the Food and Drugs Regulations as any frozen or reconstituted liquid, concentrated and dried and include the following products: skim milk content reduced calcium (obtained by ion exchange process), casein, caseinates, cultured milk products, whey protein, ultra-filtered milk, whey, butter, whey cream and any other component of milk.

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Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

General

What is the purpose of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations?

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations, under the authority of the Canada Agricultural Products Act, regulate the safety, grading, packing and marking of fresh fruit and vegetables produced domestically and imported into Canada.

What are the key elements of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations?

Part I – Grades and Standards: sets out grade name and standard requirements for fresh fruit and vegetables.

Part I.1 – Health and Safety: Prohibits the marketing of fresh fruits and vegetables in import, export and interprovincial trade except in accordance with the regulations. Part I.1 also authorizes the Minister to exempt shipments from the application of the regulations in order to alleviate a shortage in Canada and allows him or her to authorize a test market of a product in certain circumstances.

Part II – Packaging and Labelling: sets out requirements for the packaging and labelling of fresh fruit and vegetables and includes declaration of net quantity.

Part III – Import and Interprovincial Trade: regulates the marketing of fresh fruit and vegetables in import and interprovincial trade.

Part VII – Inspection: allows persons to request inspection of produce to meet trade requirements.

Part VIII – Administration: governs seizure, detention, forfeiture and disposal actions taken by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Part X – Registration of Establishments and Operation and Maintenance of Registered Establishments: outlines requirements for registering an establishment, as well as conditions under which registration may be suspended or cancelled.

Schedule I sets out grades and standards for specific fresh fruit and vegetable commodities grown in Canada.

How do the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations affect Canadian businesses?

These regulations outline requirements for a Canadian business to import and trade fresh fruit and vegetables inter-provincially.

When did the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations come into force?

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations came into force September 22, 1965. It is important to note however, that Canada has been regulating the trade of fruit and vegetable for over 100 years.

Can I use reusable plastic containers (RPCs) to package onions and potatoes in shipping containers?

RPCs are permitted for the packaging of onions and potatoes in shipping containers. They must be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized prior to reuse. RPCs are limited to shipping containers marketed for import or inter-provincial trade. RPCs do not apply to consumer prepacked onions and potatoes.

Where do I find a current list of acceptable pesticides and acceptable maximum residue limits for fresh fruits and vegetables in Canada?

The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) at Health Canada registers the use of agricultural chemicals and establishes acceptable residue levels in food by setting maximum residue limits (MRLs). Search their database for Maximum Residue Limits for Pesticides by pesticide and by specific fruit and vegetable.

If an MRL has not been established for a particular residue in a food commodity then it is set as 0.1 ppm as per section B.15.002 of the Food and Drug Regulations.

What are Ministerial exemptions for fresh fruit and vegetables that are imported or traded across provinces, and how do I apply?

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations set packaging, labelling and grade requirements for fresh fruits and vegetables for interprovincial or import trade in Canada.

An exemption from these regulations may be provided if the Minister considers it necessary in order to prevent or alleviate a shortage of product in Canada.

If you are a processor or packer, you may apply for a Ministerial exemption to obtain non-compliant product from another province or country when adequate quality and quantity of supplies are not available. You must show that a shortage in supply exists and if an exemption is provided, you must ensure that all conditions of the Ministerial exemption are respected.

General guidelines for requesting and administering of Ministerial exemptions for fresh fruit and vegetables are available.

In addition to labelling and food safety requirements, are there other regulatory requirements which apply to my fresh fruit and vegetable products?

Fresh fruit and vegetables are also subject to the Plant Protection Act and Plant Protection Regulations which are intended to prevent the introduction and spread of plant pests which could be harmful to our Canadian agricultural production and future trade in these commodities.

The plant protection program outlines the requirements that must be applied to the import, export and domestic movement of these commodities including restrictions on associated soil, etc.

Domestic

Can fresh fruit and vegetables be sold in Canada if they have been exposed to radiation (irradiated)?

There are currently only a number of approved foods that can be irradiated and sold in Canada - onions, potatoes, wheat, flour, whole wheat flour, and whole or ground spices and dehydrated seasonings. Health Canada has a web page where you can view Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Food Irradiation.

Import

How do I import fresh fruit and vegetables into Canada?

You must have a produce licence with the CFIA and/or be a member of the Dispute Resolution Corporation (DRC) in order to import fresh fruit and vegetables.

Complete access form No. 0985 in the CFIA Forms Catalogue to apply for a CFIA produce licence.

To apply for membership with the DRC, visit the DRC website.

Canadian import and inter-provincial requirements for fresh fruit and vegetables can be found on the CFIA website.

Also check out the Guide to Importing Food Products Commercially for an overview of the federal regulatory and policy requirements for commercial importation of food into Canada. It is designed for importers, consultants and those considering an import venture.

Are there country-specific food safety requirements for importing fresh fruits and vegetables?

The Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) will provide country-specific requirements for importing fresh fruits and vegetables into Canada.

For fresh fruit and vegetable food safety requirements, there are three country-specific interim requirements currently in effect:

Mexico for cantaloupes: The CFIA established an agreement with the Mexican competent authority to certify farms and/or packers. CFIA will allow the importation of Mexican cantaloupes if the companies have a valid certificate by the Mexican government (i.e. SENASICA) under the Cantaloupe Certification Program, which includes a comprehensive trace back system.

Guatemala for fresh raspberries and blackberries: The CFIA does not allow the entry of wild fresh raspberries and blackberries into Canada since the Canadian government has not evaluated the conditions and practices of harvesting and packing in this country. In addition, CFIA does not allow the entry of imported cultivated fresh raspberries from Guatemala from March 15 to August 12 of each year.

US and California for leafy green vegetables: The California Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Agreement requires signatory handlers of leafy green vegetables grown in California to get their supply from growers that apply commodity specific food safety guidelines for the production and harvest of lettuce and leafy greens (Leafy Green Good Agricultural Practices {GAPS}).

CFIA has determined that the Leafy Green GAPs appropriately identifies and addresses the hazards. CFIA therefore limits the entry of leafy green vegetables into Canada to those handlers that have signed the marketing agreement.

What are the packaging requirements for imported fresh fruits and vegetables?

Fresh fruit and vegetables may be packaged in any suitable container provided containers have been minimally stained, soiled, warped, broken or damaged so that it doesn't affect the shipping quality or saleability of produce. The containers must be securely closed. Sweet corn must be in mesh-type bags that are new, clean and free from stains.

You cannot package produce in a container that has a label that misrepresents the quality, quantity, composition, nature, safety, value, origin or variety of the contents. All information on food labels must not be false, misleading or deceptive.

Standard container sizes are approved for prepackaged beets, carrots, onions, parsnips, potatoes and rutabagas. These are listed in Schedule II, Table I of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations and on the test market list on CFIA's website.

Produce, for which a grade is established within the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations, may not be packaged in containers exceeding 50 kg, except for apples, pears, peaches and apricots where the maximum container size is 200 kg.

Consumer-sized products (prepackaged) must be labelled with the information required under the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations. Labelling of shipping and master containers is prescribed in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations.

Labelling

Industry Labelling Tool

The Industry Labelling Tool is a tool to assist industry compliance with legislation and consumer protection. It includes information on Food Products that Require a Label, General Principles for Labelling and Advertising and Labelling Requirements Checklist.

Read more about Labelling Requirements for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

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Processed Products (Fruit and Vegetables)

General

What products are subject to the Processed Products Regulations (PPR)?

All regulated products are listed in Schedules I, II and III of the Processed Products Regulations. An establishment that processes and ships to other provinces or countries or applies a class to any product must be licensed.

Different regulatory requirements apply depending on the product.

There are six types of products processed according to the PPR:

  1. Small acidic food products in hermetically sealed containers (e.g. canned vegetable products, vegetable soups);
  2. Small low-acid canned food products at reduced pH (e.g. fermented or reduced pH marinated products, horseradish, canned vegetables at reduced pH);
  3. Frozen foods (e.g. frozen fruits, frozen vegetables);
  4. Air acids (e.g. canned fruit, canned tomato products);
  5. Low water activity (Aw) foods (e.g. jams, jellies, pie fillings, iced fruits);
  6. Juices and nectars (e.g. fruit juices, vegetable juices, fruit nectars).
Am I obligated to have my processed food products inspected by the CFIA?

An inspection is not mandatory for processed products, but the CFIA may inspect any food product that is imported, or shipped across provincial boundaries, to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements (e.g. composition, labelling, standard container sizes, sanitation, etc.). If a non-compliant product is found, it may be seized and held until regulations are met. In the case of imports the product may be returned to the country of origin.

Do I have to become HACCP certified if I want to register as processed product producer?

No. HACCP requirements are voluntary standards for processed products establishments. It is not required to be HACCP certified but CFIA encourages businesses to participate in the Food Safety Enhancement Program.

Which fruit juices are subjected to Processed Products Regulations (PPR)?

All fruit juices refrigerated or not, that have a durable life of 90 days and that are unfermented liquid made from fresh fruits are subject to the Processed Products Regulations (PPR).

Concentrated fruit juices are not subjected to PPR, except for concentrated apple juice, concentrated grape juice, frozen concentrated orange juice, sweet frozen concentrated orange juice and frozen concentrated apple juice.

"Fruit juice" is a protected term that is subject to the regulatory standard for fruit juices. Juice that does not meet the regulatory standard of fruit juice cannot bear the name "fruit juice".

For more information, refer to Schedule I, II of the Processed Products Regulations and Division 11 of the Food and Drug Regulations.

Is there guidance available for producers of unpasteurized fruit juices?

Yes. Unpasteurized juices have the potential to be contaminated. Some of the sources of contamination include E. coli, Salmonella, and Cryptosporidium. To help you minimize the food safety hazards associated with your juice, Health Canada and the CFIA have produced a voluntary Code of Practice for the Production and Distribution of Unpasteurized Apple and Other Fruit Juice/Cider in Canada

Are wild vegetables (e.g. wild mushrooms) subject to Processed Products Regulations?

Yes. Requirements apply to processed foods regardless of the method of growing (wild or cultivated).

Domestic

Where can I find the recommended pasteurization requirements for my juice product?

Canadian regulations do not specify pasteurization parameters for juice products.

Health Canada provides recommended time and temperature combinations for apple juice and apple cider. For other fruit juices in general, Health Canada supports a minimum 5-log reduction in the most resistant pathogen(s) of concern, however there is not an established pasteurization schedule in Canada.

The CFIA recommends that you engage a thermal processing expert to establish a validated pasteurization process for your specific product and any other factors that need to be considered. This will help you to ensure that your product is safe for human consumption and meets applicable regulations.

Can I use a Resistance Temperature Detector (RTD) as an indicating thermometer on my retort?

Yes. An RTD can be used as an indicating thermometer for retorts, but it needs to be regularly calibrated and maintained. Maintenance and calibration of your RTD must meet CFIA requirements and manufacturer specifications. For more information, visit CFIA's Guidance on Resistance Temperature Detectors used as Indicating Thermometers for Retort Vessels.

What are the maximum residue limits (MRL) for pesticides in processed products?

The maximum residue limit (MRL) for pesticides varies according to the food commodity or pesticide. The MRL is regulated under the Pest Control Products Act. Health Canada has an Maximum Residue Limits for Pesticides online search tool that allows users to search for established MRLs.

What food additives can I use in processed fruit and vegetable products?

Official lists of permitted food additives and their allowable areas of use are maintained on Health Canada's website.

Food additives are considered to be ingredients in a final pre-packaged product. Added ingredients must be included in the list of ingredients. See our Industry Labelling Tool for additional information on the labelling requirements for processed products.

What are the requirements for the water used in registered food processing plants?

Health Canada establishes the Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines. Additional regulations can also be imposed by provincial regulators.

If I freeze fruits and vegetables in my warehouse that were already processed when I received them, do I need to obtain a licence for my facility?

Yes. The act of freezing is considered to be conditioning under the Canada Agricultural Products Act. The processed products regulation requires these products be prepared in a licensed establishment for the purpose of transporting them to another province or exporting them.

Are vegetables hermetically sealed in soft bags required to meet the required formats in the Processed Products Regulations (PPR)?

Yes. The regulations apply to hermetically sealed soft bags.

Import

What are the requirements to import processed fruits and vegetables to Canada?

All processed fruits and vegetables imported into Canada must follow the Processed Products Regulations (PPR). The following rules must be followed:

  1. The product meets the minimum grade or standard of identity
  2. The product is packed in a prescribed container size
  3. The product is correctly labelled
  4. Processed foods must be sound, wholesome, fit for human consumption, manufactured from sound raw materials, and packed under sanitary conditions.
  5. The shipment needs to be accompanied by an Import Declaration Form (CFIA/ACIA 4560), to be completed by the importer or their representative.

Currently, import quotas or permits do not apply to processed products.

What is an Import Declaration and when do I have to complete this form?

An import declaration is a mandatory form for food products imported into Canada. This form is available online at the CFIA Form Catalogue and can be completed electronically.

Importers of processed products are required to pay a fee per shipment for verification of the Import Declaration. Fees are payable by the due data shown on the monthly statement. You can contact CFIA Accounts Receivable to arrange payment options.

For more information consult the Requirements for Food Imported into Canada.

What are the requirements for importing canned vegetables from China?

Only shipments of Chinese canned vegetables with a CFIA recognized sanitation registration code appearing on the cans will be accepted entry into Canada.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Canada and China has been put in place to ensure that all Chinese Canned Vegetables (low acid) imported into Canada are manufactured under conditions that comply to Canadian food regulatory requirements.

Any shipments of Chinese canned vegetables from an establishment that has not been approved will be refused entry into Canada.

I am a supplier of food processing equipment. Do I need to have the equipment certified by the CFIA before I can sell it in Canada?

You do not need to have a certification from CFIA prior to selling your equipment in Canada. However, the user of the equipment needs to ensure that food being produced is safe. This responsibility includes ensuring all equipment meets the necessary guidelines or regulations for the task it is completing.

Do frozen or canned fruits and vegetables from another country require a country of origin label?

Yes. The country of origin must appear on all processed products if they are sold in their original container or repackaged in Canada.

A country of origin label is optional in the following cases:

  • 1. The product is prepared in Canada with fruits and vegetables grown and processed in Canada.
  • 2. The fruit and vegetable product is processed in Canada from imported fruits or vegetables.
  • 3. The fruit and vegetable product is processed in Canada from a mix of imported and domestic fruits or vegetables.

More information is available in the CFIA's Industry Labelling Tool.

Are "ripe green olives" subject to the Processed Products Regulations?

Canned ripe green olives are subject to the requirements under the "olive" identity standard, but there are no requirements on the container format for this product as "ripe green olives" do not match the definition of "green olives".

Labelling

Are there requirements in the Processed Products Regulations for the container sizes used for processed fruits and vegetables?

Yes. The container format (capacity designation) prescribed in Schedule III to the Processed Products Regulations (TPC) (Table I, II and III) applies to all containers (e.g. metal, glass, plastic) while the dimensions prescribed apply only to metal containers.

Do frozen or canned fruits and vegetables from another country require a country of origin label?

Yes. The country of origin must appear on all processed products if they are sold in their original container or repackaged in Canada.

A country of origin label is optional in the following cases:

  • 4. The product is prepared in Canada with fruits and vegetables grown and processed in Canada.
  • 5. The fruit and vegetable product is processed in Canada from imported fruits or vegetables.
  • 6. The fruit and vegetable product is processed in Canada from a mix of imported and domestic fruits or vegetables.

More information is available in the CFIA's Industry Labelling Tool.

What is the difference between jam and a spread?

Jam is a regulated product that must meet the standards of identity requirements of the Processed Products Regulations (PPR). For more information see schedule III of the PPR.

If your product does not fall under one of these standards then you may be able to call it another name (e.g. a spread), however, this product must be substantially different compared to the standards in the Act.

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Egg and Egg Products

Domestic

Do I need to use a shell egg cleaning compound to wash eggs?

Yes. The Egg regulations state that the water used to wash eggs must contain a safe and effective shell egg cleaning compound.

How do I ensure the shell egg cleaning compound is safe and effective?

One way of achieving the requirement for a safe and effective compound used in the water to wash eggs is to ask your chemical supplier to provide you with written assurance of the safety and suitability of their product. You can refer to section 3 of CFIA's Guidance for Food Establishments Concerning Construction Materials and Packaging Materials and Non-Food Chemicals for other suggested options to meet this requirement.

How do I obtain an egg registration to set up a grading station?

Contact the CFIA's Centre of Administration for Permissions, which will provide you with a package outlining registration requirements.

E-mail: Permission@inspection.gc.ca

Phone: 1-855-212-7695 or 613-773-5131

You can also refer to the registration chapter of the Egg Manual.

Are blood spots or meat spots on eggs a food safety concern?

Blood spots or meat spots on eggs are internal defects that can occur sporadically during the formation of the egg. They are quality defects that will not cause illness in humans but should be removed at the candling step in grading eggs.

Import

Are there specific rules regarding which countries can export shell eggs to Canada?

The Egg Regulations allow the import of eggs from countries with grade requirements and a system of inspection that is substantially equivalent to those prescribed by the Egg Regulations. Currently that is only the United States.

Exceptions include if the import is:

  1. one case (30 dozen) or less and is not intended for sale in Canada;
  2. part of an immigrant's effects;
  3. five cases or less and is intended for use in analysis, evaluation, testing or research or in a national or international food exhibition;
  4. carried on any vessel, train, motor vehicle, aircraft or other means of transportation for use as food for the crew or passengers thereof; or
  5. imported from the United States onto the Akwesasne Reserve for use by an Akwesasne resident.

Although the exceptions exist, shell eggs from some countries may still require zoosanitary certificates. Refer to the CFIA's Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) for the specific import requirements for each country.

Can I import shell eggs to sell?

At present, commercial shipments of eggs can only be imported from the United States of America. An original copy of the certificate of inspection completed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) must accompany the load of imported eggs. All shipments of eggs must be presented for inspection at their destination by notifying the local CFIA office. Quantities over two dozen may be subject to high rates of duty. Global Affairs Canada provides guidelines for importing.

Can I import processed eggs?

Federal registration is required for foreign processed egg establishments to be eligible to export processed egg products to Canada. The foreign country's product standards and system of inspection for processed egg products and establishments must be substantially equivalent to those set out in the Canadian Processed Egg Regulations.

Labelling/Grading

How do I determine the grade size of my eggs?

Canada A eggs are sized by the weight of each individual egg. The weight categories for each size are a minimum weight which may cause the perception of a smaller looking egg in a large pack. Eggs must be weighed to determine if they are the proper size as a visual assessment would not be accurate.

My large eggs are not being graded "Large" why is that?

Canada A eggs are sized by the weight of each individual egg. The weight categories for each size are a minimum weight which may cause the perception of a smaller looking egg in a large pack. Eggs must be weighed to determine if they are the proper size as a visual assessment would not be accurate.

Do I need to be registered to grade eggs if I do not ship the eggs out of the province?

Yes. The Egg Regulations state that no person shall grade eggs at a place other than a registered egg station. There are no provincial regulations allowing the application of the Canada A grade for eggs as it is a national trademark and can only be applied in a federally registered egg station.

How can I find a registered egg station / processed egg station in my area?

The CFIA website provides a current list of registered egg stations and processed egg stations.

Can I sell my eggs to a local restaurant /grocery store without having them graded?

Most provinces prohibit the sale or have special conditions for the sale of ungraded eggs with the exception of sales at the farm gate direct to consumers.

The sale of eggs within the province falls under the scope of the provincial regulations. Not all provincial regulations have the same requirements and not all provinces have egg and egg product regulations.

How do I get my duck eggs (or eggs from other species) graded?

Eggs can only be graded in a registered egg station. Egg stations are registered under the federal egg regulations. An egg is defined in the Egg Regulations as the egg of a domestic hen belonging to the species Gallus domesticus. No other species can have the Canada grade applied to it.

Can I use the term "Free Range" on my eggs?

Free range claims refer to chickens having regular access to roam and graze outdoors. There are no specific requirements, such as the length of time spent outdoors or the type of environment in order to use these claims.

Is "Source of Omega-3" an acceptable claim?

There are conditions outlined in the Food and Drugs Act for nutritional claims. You can view a summary table for Omega-3 and Omega-6 Polyunsaturates claims on the CFIA website.

What lutein claims are acceptable?

The only lutein claim permitted on an egg label is a quantitative claim such as "300 µg of lutein per 53g egg". The unit should be labelled in micrograms (µg) or milligrams (mg). Claims such as "with lutein" or the word "lutein" on its own are not permitted.

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Honey

General/Domestic

What products are subject to the Honey Regulations?

Honey is the only product regulated by the Honey Regulations. Other bee products such as honeycomb (comb honey), flavored honey, royal jelly, bee propolis, and bee pollen fall under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drugs Act. Depending on the intended use of some of these products, including honey, they may also fall under the Health of Animals Regulations.

Are honey products that contain other ingredients (e.g. flavours) regulated under the Honey Regulations?

No. Only products that are composed of 100 per cent honey and that are imported or sold across provinces are regulated under the Honey Regulations. Products such as comb honey and flavoured honey are regulated under the Food and Drug Regulations.

When is registration of a honey facility required under the Honey Regulations and what is the process to become registered?

Honey that is shipped inter-provincially, exported or which bears the Canadian grade mark must be prepared in an establishment registered with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency under the Honey Regulations.

Registration is also required for establishments that repack imported honey for trade in Canada, even if that trade is only within the province in which it was imported.

The Centre of Administration (CoA) is responsible for carrying out administrative tasks related to granting permissions (licences, permits and registrations) for commercial operators and for travellers.

Permission@inspection.gc.ca / 1-855-212-7695 or 613-773-5131

I am a honey producer and want to sell and ship honey extracted from my own hives to an establishment in another province. Does my extraction facility have to be registered?

No. The extraction facility does not need to be registered provided the honey is shipped / marketed in accordance with the Honey Regulations.

An exemption under this part of the regulations allows honey to be moved across provinces from a non-registered establishment if the honey is packed in bulk containers and the honey is being conveyed to a registered establishment for the purpose of classification, grading, repacking or reprocessing.

Is pasteurization mandatory for honey?

No. Pasteurization of honey is not mandatory. Pasteurization, as applied to honey, is not a health and safety process control as it is with other food products (e.g. to reduce or eliminate pathogenic microorganisms). Rather, pasteurization is a heat treatment applied to improve the keeping quality of honey and to render the honey free of viable sugar tolerant yeasts.

Although the pasteurization process itself is not mandatory, the labelling of honey as "pasteurized", when pasteurization treatment is applied, is mandatory under the Honey Regulations (section 35 and 36).

Pasteurization also changes the moisture requirements in the grade standards. Honey can have higher moisture content when pasteurized.

Where can I find information on maximum drug residue levels due to the extra-label use of veterinary drugs in my honey bees?

In 2005, Health Canada and the CFIA published a joint policy that establishes working residue levels (WRLs) for veterinary drug residues in honey. The table of current WRLs in honey is posted on Health Canada's website.

What is the maximum amount of lead residue permitted in honey?

Honey producers must ensure that lead concentrations are as low as reasonably achievable. There is currently no prescribed maximum limit for lead residues in honey.

Sources of lead include: lead soldered seams, older galvanized equipment, most brass and bronze equipment, tern plate and lead based paint.

Lead levels equal to or greater than 0.1 parts per million (ppm) suggest that avoidable contamination has taken place. It is the responsibility of the honey producer to take the steps necessary to ensure that potential sources of lead contamination are avoided. Blending contaminated honey with other honey to reduce lead levels is not acceptable.

Import

What are the requirements to import honey in Canada?

Imported honey must follow the requirements in the Honey Regulations covering quality, labelling, packaging, grading, and health and safety requirements.

Each shipment of honey and honey products must be accompanied by an Import Declaration, Request for Release Approval and Customs Transaction Document. This documentation must be presented to the CFIA National Import Service Centre for clearance before shipments are allowed entry into Canada by CBSA officers. The importer or the importer's authorized agent must declare that the honey meets the requirements of the Honey Regulations.

If I am an importer of honey, do I have to be registered with CFIA?

Importers / establishments that import honey that is traded in the same manner in which it was imported (e.g. not re-packed) are not required to be registered under the Honey Regulations.

However, registration with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is required for importers / establishments where imported honey is repacked for trade either within the province or across Canada.

Labelling/Packaging

What are the packaging material requirements for honey?

The Food and Drug Regulations contain safety requirements for all food packaging. The regulations require that packaging materials do not impart any harmful substances into the food. It is the responsibility of the food seller to ensure that the packaging material is safe for food use and appropriate for the intended purpose.

The Honey Establishment Inspection Manual has a Guide to Developing a Bulk Container Program to assist honey producers to control the hazards associated with bulk containers.

Section 3 of the CFIA's Guidance for Food Establishments Concerning Construction Materials and Packaging Materials and Non-Food Chemicals provides some options food businesses can use to help them ensure the safety of packaging materials.

Do honey containers need to be a specific size?

Yes. Standard container sizes must be used for Canadian and imported honey containers sold in Canada. These are indicated in Section 29(2) and 30(2) of the Honey Regulations. Prescribed container sizes refer to the net quantity of the container. For honey, this must be declared in weight, including any net weight up to and including 150 g; 250 g; 375 g; 500 g; 750 g; 1 kg; 1.5 kg; 2 kg; 3 kg; or 5 kg.

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Maple Products

General/Domestic

Are maple products that contain other ingredients (e.g. flavours, etc.) regulated under the Maple Products Regulations?

No. Only maple products that are made from 100 per cent sap from the genus Acer are regulated under the Maple Products Regulations, including maple syrup, maple sugar, soft maple sugar, maple butter and maple taffy. Table syrup that contains some maple syrup is regulated under the Food and Drug Regulations.

What is the maximum amount of lead residue permitted in maple syrup?

There is currently no prescribed maximum limit for lead residues in maple syrup. Lead residues can be found in maple syrup, especially if it is produced with equipment made from materials or soldered joints containing lead. Maple producers must ensure that lead concentrations are as low as reasonably achievable.

Lead levels equal to or greater than 0.5 parts per million (ppm) suggest that avoidable contamination has taken place. It is the responsibility of the maple producer to take the steps necessary to ensure that potential sources of lead contamination are avoided. Blending contaminated maple syrup with other maple syrup to reduce lead levels is not acceptable.

Labelling/Packaging

Are there any packaging material requirements for maple products?

The Food and Drug Regulations contain the safety requirements for all food packaging. The regulations require that packaging materials do not impart any harmful substances into the food. It is the responsibility of the food seller to ensure that the packaging material is safe for food use and appropriate for the intended purpose.

Section 3 of the CFIA's Guidance for Food Establishments Concerning Construction Materials and Packaging Materials and Non-Food Chemicals provides some options food businesses can use to ensure the safety of packaging materials.

The Maple Products Establishment Inspection Manual has information on important practices related to the packing and storing of maple syrup, as well as the inspection of containers used in the maple environment.

Does maple sap have the same labelling requirements as maple syrup?

Maple sap is considered as a non-standardized product and falls under the Food and Drugs Act & Regulations and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act & Regulations. The General Principles for Labelling and Advertising are available on the Frequently Asked Questions: Industry Labelling Tool.

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