“Product of Canada” rules kick in Dec. 31

New guidelines for food manufacturers who use the terms “Product of Canada” and “Made in Canada” will apply to foods produced after Dec. 31 this year, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced Tuesday.

“By the end of the year, if a food is labelled ‘Product of Canada,’ this government is making sure that food is Canadian inside and out,” Ritz said, making the announcement in Cornwall, Ont. with local MP Guy Lauzon.

“We are also giving Canadian processors the credit they deserve when they make foods here in Canada and use imported products,” Lauzon said in the same release Tuesday. “For those foods, we are offering qualified ‘Made in Canada’ labels.”

Farmers and processors will be able to choose whether to use “Product of Canada” labels, but if these claims are made, the product must meet the new guidelines, the government said in its release.

“It is recognized that many products produced or manufactured before this date may already be on store shelves,” the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said in a separate statement Tuesday. “However, it is expected that all products produced after this date would comply with the new guidelines.”

The proposed new guidelines call for a “Product of Canada” label to be allowed only when both the contents and processing of that food are Canadian. A qualified “Made in Canada” label, meanwhile, can be applied to products containing imported ingredients — as long as the products are manufactured or processed in Canada.

A “Product of Canada” label would allow for little or no foreign content, except, for example, minor additives or spices that can’t be sourced in Canada. The “Made in Canada” label would be used on a food product made or processed in Canada, regardless of whether the ingredients are imported or domestic or both.

However, before “Made in Canada” could be used on a food product, the last substantial transformation of the product must have occurred in Canada and the claim would be qualified with either “Made in Canada from domestic and imported ingredients” or “Made in Canada from imported ingredients.”

The new rules allow for other statements or claims to be used if they’re truthful and not misleading for consumers. For example, the government said, “Roasted in Canada,” “Packaged in Canada” or “Processed in Canada” could be used.

But to ensure clarity, Ottawa plans to encourage the use of “Product of Canada” and “Made in Canada” on products that do meet the new guidelines.

The previous guidelines for the use of those terms hadn’t changed since the 1980s and didn’t clearly reflect the actual Canadian content in foods sold in Canada, the government has said.

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