Definition of "prepackaged" and "consumer prepackaged"

Although the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) came into force on January 15, 2019, certain requirements are being phased in over the following 12 to 30 months. For more information, refer to the SFCR timelines.

The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) have introduced new definitions for the terms "prepackaged" and "consumer prepackaged" foods, which also creates a new distinction for the term "prepackaged other than consumer prepackaged" foods.

The SFCR definitions are as follows:

"prepackaged"
in respect of a food, means packaged in a container in the manner in which the food is ordinarily sold to - or used or purchased by - a person, and includes consumer prepackaged.
"consumer prepackaged"
in respect of a food, means packaged in a container in the manner in which the food is ordinarily sold to or used or purchased by an individual - or in which the food may reasonably be expected to be obtained by an individual - without being repackaged, to be used for non-commercial purposes.

It is important to note that "prepackaged" foods are sold to a person, which encompasses both individuals and organizations, whereas "consumer prepackaged" foods are sold solely to individuals (that is to say, consumers).

Foods falling under the definition of "consumer prepackaged" foods are prepackaged foods. They must be in their final packaging and ready for sale or sold to an individual, to be used for non-commercial purposes. This includes foods that are sold directly to consumers, but does not include foods sold by one company to another (for example, for manufacturing purposes or food service use) that are not intended for retail sale.

In provisions where the SFCR specifies "prepackaged other than consumer prepackaged" foods, this term includes foods packaged in shipping or other bulk containers that are sold only at levels of trade other than retail.

In applying SFCR requirements, it is important to note whether the regulatory provision applies to all "prepackaged" foods, or solely "consumer prepackaged" or "prepackaged other than consumer prepackaged" foods.

Alignment with FDR definition

The SFCR definition for "prepackaged" is closely aligned with the definition of "prepackaged product" in the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR). The FDR definition is as follows:

"prepackaged product"
means any food that is contained in a package in the manner in which it is ordinarily sold to or used or purchased by a person.

This was not always the case previously. For some of the former regulations now consolidated under the SFCR, such as the Dairy Products Regulations and the Processed Products Regulations, "prepackaged" applied only to packaged foods sold at retail.

As the definitions are now aligned, requirements that apply to prepackaged foods apply at all levels of trade, whether in shipping or retail containers.

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