Updated April 7, 2020.
Yesterday, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced that it would be allow food products that are made in Canada and intended for foodservice. An announcement from the CFIA says this effort has been made in hopes of stimulating the economy and help stop supply chain issues at grocery stores amid the current pandemic. To sum it up, the CFIA is suspending requirements that do not specifically pertain to food safety, such as nutritional facts tables and standardized packaging specs.
The suspension also applies to any products packaged and labelled in the past 90 days as well as food products made, packaged and labelled in Canada for foodservice use that are labelled according to U.S. labelling requirements to sell without label changes.
Lis Cheah is the fresh category manager for Community Natural Foods in Calgary and says the removal of this road block will provide local restaurants and small-scale food and drink producers the re-purpose their current inventory to help alleviate their financial stresses during the COVID-19 crisis.
"The hurdle that many small businesses and restaurants face in normal circumstances is being able to provide complete labels for retail sales. This can be a complicated and cost prohibitive step," says Cheah. "With this removed, it opens the door to having restaurants being able to package meals-to-go, and the potential to sell in larger retailers such as grocery stores."
Cheah has been actively looking for locally-prepared products with clean ingredient listings from Community Natural Foods' three store locations, such as reheatable meals or meal kits, soups, condiments or snacks.
More details on this temporary lifting of certain labelling restrictions can be found on the CFIA website.