Ottawa – The federal government has introduced changes to the Food and Drugs Act.
The government says the changes will continue to protect Canadian food safety and at the same time reduce red tape that currently delays safe food from getting to market.
Leona Aglukkaq, the minister of Health, says tools the government currently uses to regulate food products are outdated. But this new approach “will allow more timely approvals of safe, innovative products.”
The new tools, called Marketing Authorizations, and Incorporation by Reference, will streamline regulatory processes and maintain the same rigorous pre-market safety assessments to support Health Canada decisions.
Currently, once Health Canada food scientists have made certain safety decisions – whether it’s around a new food additive, vitamin, mineral nutrient or approving a new health claim on food – it can take many months and sometimes even years to implement that decision through a change in the regulations.
The delays limit access to innovative and safe products for Canadian consumers. The delays also limit the department’s ability to respond to new scientific information that might have an impact on the health and safety of Canadians.
The Food & Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC) applauded the move, saying it strongly supports legislation that improves the way food and drugs are approved in Canada.
The FCPC adds that the changes will help the food-manufacturing sector grow. “The modernization and simplification of these regulations are long overdue,” says the FCPC. “They will address ongoing approval delays that are stifling innovation and limiting consumer choice in Canada.”
The Canadian Beverage Association also came out in favour of the changes. It says the new Marketing Authorizations, and Incorporation by Reference tools will prove beneficial to Health Canada, the public, and the beverage industry. Both will provide Health Canada with the ability to respond more rapidly to changing technology and nutritional science and to respond in a more timely manner. The changes will enable industry to introduce new and innovative products that use newly available food technology more efficiently.
“Streamlining the approval process for new ingredients and additives is a very proactive move by Health Canada,” says Justin Sherwood, president, Canadian Beverage Association. “It helps to safeguard the competitiveness of Canadian beverage companies by ensuring they can bring forward new innovative products that consumers want in a timely manner.”