Consultation on new guidance for foods sold through e-commerce (open until July 8, 2022)

June 1, 2022 | Alissa Ricioppo, Jaclyne Reive

Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) are seeking feedback to inform their development of voluntary guidance for businesses when selling food and beverages to consumers through e-commerce. The guidance would relate to food information, such as labelling and claims, that is presented to consumers by retailers and other businesses when purchasing food online. A key component of their approach is a proposal to have food information that is available online match the product’s physical label, which is already subject to mandatory labelling requirements such as nutrition labelling, ingredient lists, allergen declarations, net quantity and other requirements. The guidelines would also include recommendations related to providing food information in a consistent manner across an e-commerce platform so that foods can be easily compared, as well as formatting requirements, such as providing certain product images, text and backgrounds.

The government is interested in input from a variety of sources, including food industry associations, health professionals, experts, and trading partners, along with consumers and consumer associations. If you would like to participate in the consultation, you can send your responses to the questions listed in section 7 of the consultation document either through an online portal or in an email sent to nut.labelling-etiquetage@hc-sc.gc.ca with the subject line “Online Food Labelling Consultation” before July 8, 2022.

In the consultation document, Health Canada and the CFIA note the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the accelerated adoption of e-commerce and have identified that while the sale of foods online has increased in recent years, the information provided to consumers is inconsistent and not always adequate to inform purchases. These consultations and resulting guidance are part of a broader goal to make food information more consistently available and accessible to Canadians.

Should you have any questions regarding food labelling or e-commerce sales, please feel free to reach out to any member of Miller Thomson’s Marketing, Advertising and Product Compliance team.

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