Guide to Importing Food Products Commercially
Section A - Canadian Food Legislation

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The Food and Drugs Act and Regulations is the primary legislation that applies to all food sold in Canada, whether imported or domestic. This legislation sets out minimum health and safety requirements, as well as provisions preventing fraud or deception (labelling, composition, packaging, treatment, processing, sale and advertising).

Various statutes contain standards or specifications that complement or further define the food standards set out in the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations. The Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations, for example, establish labelling and net quantity requirements for consumer packaged goods for sale in Canada. The Canada Agricultural Products Act and associated Regulations, the Fish Inspection Act and Regulations and the Meat Inspection Act and Regulations also contain food standards. However, these statutes are primarily intended to ensure the marketability of food products traded internationally and interprovincially, through a combination of safety, quality and grading standards.

Several federal statutes are designed to protect Canadian agriculture, fish stocks, forestry, industry and wildlife from the introduction of animal and plant diseases and pests: the Health of Animals Act and Regulations, the Plant Protection Act and Regulations, and the Fish Health Protection Regulations of the Fisheries Act. These statutes restrict the importation of certain foods from specific areas of concern or require phytosanitary certificates, permits or other documentation.

To permit the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to take effective enforcement action against importers and domestic companies marketing products that do not meet Canadian regulatory standards, the Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act will allow regional CFIA officials to issue monetary penalties for non-compliance with provisions of the seven agri-food Acts to which this legislation applies.

Appendix I of this Guide provides brief descriptions of these and other federal statutes relevant to the importation of food. The list, however, is not exhaustive. There may be health and safety requirements in other federal or provincial acts.

Key Federal Legislation

Key federal legislation. Description follows.

Description of image that shows key federal legislation

This image shows key federal legislation.

Food and Drugs Act - Applies to all food imported or sold in Canada

Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act - Applies to all prepackaged food products imported or sold in Canada

Fish Inspection Act - Applies to fish and fish products marketed through import, export and interprovincial trade

Meat Inspection Act - Applies to meat and meat products marketed through import, export and interprovincial trade

Canada Agricultural Products Act - Applies to most dairy, egg, fruit, vegetable, maple and honey products marketed through import, export and interprovincial trade

Legislation designed to protect Canadian Agriculture, Fish and Wildlife from diseases and pests. Description follows.

Description of legislation designed to protect Canadian Agriculture, Fish and Wildlife from diseases and pests

This image shows Legislation Designed to Protect Canadian Agriculture, Fish, and Wildlife from Diseases and Pests

Health of Animals Act - Live animals and foods from animal sources may be subject to Animal Health import requirements and restrictions.

Plant Protection Act - Certain fresh fruits and vegetable are subject to plant protection import requirements.

Fisheries Act (Fish Health Protection Regulations) - Import permits may be required for certain cultured fish and eggs.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act - Gives authority to officials of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to impose monetary penalties on companies marketing products in contravention of Canadian regulatory standards

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