Do you find a particular section of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)’s Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising confusing? Do you think it takes too long to hear back from CFIA on your labelling questions? Do you face hurdles due to Canadian standards of identity that are inconsistent with other jurisdictions? If so, now is the time to let the CFIA know what changes you would like to see as part of its new consultation process on the Food Labelling Modernization Initiative.

Until August 30, 2013, stakeholders can provide input with respect to the food labelling system in an online consultation that consists of a web-questionnaire with a series of short, open questions. The online consultation is the first step in a two-year consultation and discussion process that is expected to be completed in June 2015. This first public consultation serves to get a better understanding of the issues that are important to stakeholders and to identify any gaps in the current food labelling system. Stakeholders can provide feedback on issues in four key areas:

  1. Roles, Responsibilities and Partnerships: Improve compliance by effectively balancing the roles and responsibilities between consumers, industry and government.
  2. Regulation: Continue to better protect consumers and support industry innovation by strengthening the regulatory framework, while considering global standards and approaches.
  3. Policy and Program Development: Enhance compliance by developing effective policies and programs that are based on risk; facilitate partnerships and support consistency.
  4. Service Delivery and IM/IT: Improve service delivery by applying standardized inspection approaches based on risk and prevention, and supported by appropriate services and tools.

The CFIA is hoping to hear from a wide range of stakeholders including the food industry, consumers, provincial governments and consumer protection groups, in order to get a fair balance between the different points of view – which are sometimes conflicting.  For context, the CFIA has published a discussion paper to guide stakeholders and help focus comments on issues that fall under the CFIA’s mandate (available here).

Prepared with assistance from Jean-Francois Graillon and Laura Gomez