Colour Labeling Changes Coming in Canada

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) passed amendments to overhaul many aspects of its current labeling requirements back in 2016.


Regulated industries have until December 14, 2021 to comply.


These changes will have a direct impact on Canadian food manufacturers and importers into Canada. The major amendments include a revised nutrition label, list of ingredients, serving size, sugars, and food colour requirements.


new label requirements


Although some of these required updates are simple formatting changes, others are more specific. For example, by 2021, brands must call out all sugar-based ingredients in brackets after the listing of ‘sugar’. Additionally, the CFIA is urging manufacturers to be more transparent about colours. The upcoming amendments will also require food companies to list colours by their specific names.


original ingredients and new ingredients


Historically, from a colour standpoint, products manufactured in or exported to Canada were advised to declare the use of food colouring in an ingredient statement as “colour”. The CFIA’s new guidelines state where ‘colour’ was previously accepted, food companies must now declare all used colours by their common names, such as “Allura Red”.


Here’s what the CFIA is calling for by 2021 in regards to the labeling of food colours:


  • Food colours must be declared by their specific common names in the list of ingredients of a prepacked product (e.g., “allura red”).
    • The term “colour” may no longer be used in the list of ingredients to declare the presence of one or more food colours.
    • Specific common names of one of more food colours may not be grouped and listed within parentheses after the term “colour”.
  • The common name to be used for the lake version of a colour may be the common name of the colour (e.g., “tartrazine”) or alternatively “(naming the colour) lake”.
  • Any food colour contained in any food preparation must declare the colour in the list of ingredients by the common name.


Canada will also allow for the use of the U.S. common name in conjunction with the common name; e.g., “Allura Red (Red 40)”.


As the food industry and governing regulatory bodies strive to create greater transparency for the information hungry consumers of today, Sensient’s dedicated global regulatory team is here to assist with any guidance regarding the upcoming labeling changes in Canada.


In our years of experience, labeling changes have often spurred great innovation in the industry.


Sensient Colors can help food manufacturers navigate the regulatory landscape and meet consumer demand for transparency. Our team is happy to answer any questions about compliance with the CFIA’s 2021 guidelines. Please feel free to start a conversation by requesting a consult below.


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