Notice to industry – Final publication of changes to Canada's beer compositional standards

May 1, 2019: The Government of Canada has announced changes to modernize Canada's beer compositional standard.

Changes to the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR), which outline specific requirements that must be met for a product to be labelled, packaged, sold and advertised as beer in Canada, now allow the beer industry to be more innovative.

The changes to the FDR support business competitiveness by allowing Canadian companies more flexibility in what they use to make beer and how they do it. This enables Canada's beer industry to create new and innovative products and gives consumers more variety in their choices when it comes to beer.

Changes to the beer compositional standards

The changes to the FDR:

  • put in place a limit of 4% residual sugar in the final product to distinguish standardized beer from sweeter malt-based beverages
  • allow flavouring preparations to be used along with mandatory labelling (for example, "beer with blueberry flavour")
  • replace references to specific food additives in the standard with a general reference to additives permitted in beer under Health Canada's Lists of Permitted Food Additives
  • clarify the term "carbohydrate"
  • clarify that herbs and spices are allowed
  • remove the listed processing aids from the standard to make it consistent with the majority of food standards in the FDR, which typically do not list the processing aids (such as antifoaming agents used during manufacturing)
  • allow for the use of mixtures of yeast and other micro-organisms for fermentation
  • remove the standard for ale, stout, porter and malt liquor to have just one standard for all beer styles and types

In addition, brewers are now required under the FDR to declare food allergens, gluten sources or added sulphites on the label. This change will help Canadians with food allergies, celiac disease or food sensitivities make more informed choices.

The regulatory changes to the beer standard are the result of extensive consultations with consumers, industry and other stakeholders.

Transition period for industry to make the changes

Industry has been given time to transition to the new regulatory requirements, and to align with other labelling changes from the Government of Canada.

Effective on December 14, 2022, the changes must be applied. Until that date, Canadian brewers and beer importers must either follow the previous or the new requirements.

For more information, you can also consult the Questions and answers.

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