Importing foods into Canada can be highly lucrative – if you follow the rules and regulations set forth by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Canada takes the health of its citizens very seriously, so there are strict regulations on how food is packaged and labeled, to ensure it is safe and accurately represented.
Understandably, we receive a lot of queries regarding this topic. It’s complicated, and often your best move is to contact experienced Canadian customs brokers to help ensure your shipments move swiftly across the border. Experienced brokers will know the ins and outs of the system and be best prepared to expedite your imports.
For a complete overview of the relevant regulations, including laws governing single products, you can visit the Industry Labeling Tool established by the CBSA. However, we can offer some general guidelines regarding the most important labeling requirements.
- Common names
The product must have its common easily understood name printed clearly on the packaging. ie, milk, sugar, lobster, etc. The only exception would be certain fresh fruits and vegetables if the product itself is directly viewable through a window in the packaging.
- Principal display panels (PDP)
PDPs are simply the most prominent customer-facing messaging panel on the package. These must contain the common name, in typeface size of at least 1.6mm or greater. Or, if the PDP is smaller than 10 square cm, the typeface size must be at least .8mm.
- Quantity declaration
The amount of product within the packaging must be clearly declared on the PDP and must be measured in metric units. Imperial units can also be used as a secondary measurement, but metric must be prominent, and measurements must include the appropriate abbreviation for the unit (i.e., kg for kilograms.) The amount should be rounded to three digits, unless under 100.
- List of ingredients
Unless the product is a single-ingredient food, a full and complete list of ingredients must be present on the packaging, arranged in descending order of proportion by weight. This list must also include notifications for any potential allergens, such as gluten or sulfates.
- Packaged on/Sell by
In most cases, the packaging must include the date on which the food product was packaged, as well as a sell-by date determined via industry best practices.