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CFIA seeks input on nonmeat food labeling

CFIA seeks input on nonmeat food labeling

The organization has proposed a distinction between simulated meat products and other plant-based foods 

By Jackie Clark
Staff Writer

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is looking for input around regulatory guidelines for plant-based protein foods. The organization has proposed a framework that would differentiate between simulated meat and poultry products and other plant-based products that do not act as a substitute for meat and poultry.

“This consultation is really around how to label these type of foods in the marketplace,” Chris Marinangeli told He’s the director of nutrition, science and regulatory affairs for Pulse Canada.

In Canada “we have food and drug regulations which dictate standards of identity for certain categories of foods and CFIA has the jurisdiction to enforce the regulations,” he explained. Those regulations were drafted at a time when “simulated meat products in some cases were positioned differently than some of the new entrants into the marketplace.”

However, “the marketplace is evolving and there’s been ambiguity amongst stakeholders with the newer entrants into the market place and how they’re being positioned,” he added. “Industry needs guidance on how to position these products because they’re not really aligning with the regulatory framework that is in place.”

The new entrants include increased availability of plant-based products that are neither meat, nor poultry, not intended as a substitution for meat or poultry.

“What the guide is really doing is segregating food products into three categories.  Categories one and two exist already in the regulations,” Marinangeli explained. Those are meat and poultry products, and simulated meat and poultry products, positioned as an alternative to animal protein.

“Category three is the new entrants to the guidelines. These are plant-based products that do not contain animal-based foods,” he said.

Foods in the third category are “formulated and positioned in such a way that they’re really not meant to replace or serve as an alternative to meat or poultry products to the consumer, which means they’re really not aligning with the (current) mandate of the regulation,” Marinangeli explained. “The CFIA is recognizing these foods entering the market and realizing that because of the way they’re formulated and positioned and because of the way they look, they really don’t fall under the regulations.”

Creating the clearly defined third category would help specify regulations that govern the formulation and labeling of those food products. For example, simulated meat and poultry products are “purposefully formulated to resemble a meat or poultry product,” whereas the third category of products “may have a colour or texture similar to that of a meat or poultry product, (but) they have characteristically identifiable nonmeat ingredients and are not aiming to be like a meat product,” according to the proposed regulations.

The main, most important goal is for the consumer not to be misled, said Marinangeli.

“I think it is positive that the government of Canada has formally launched the consultation and will be examining the labelling guidelines,” he said. “It is acknowledging that the marketplace is changing, and it is critical that regulations, and in this case labelling policies, do evolve to align with the changing food landscape in Canada.”

The proposed regulatory changes are “a great first step in expediting some of those issues and challenges in the short term that could perhaps open the marketplace and expedite innovation,” he added.

CFIA is accepting input on the proposed guidelines until Dec. 3.

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