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Local Food Claims

May 10, 2013

In the coming weeks, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will undertake an initiative to modernize its food labelling approach. The CFIA—with input from consumers, industry and other stakeholders—will conduct a review of food labelling regulations, guidelines and policies including claims such as use of the term "local".

In the interim, the CFIA is adopting an interim policy which recognizes "local" as:

  • food produced in the province or territory in which it is sold, or
  • food sold across provincial borders within 50 km of the originating province or territory

The CFIA recognizes that this is a broad interpretation of the current policy and there are a variety of views on how the term “local” should be defined.

This is an interim policy which will be implemented immediately and will remain in effect until the CFIA’s labelling review is complete.  Consultations during the modernization of its food labelling approach will help inform CFIA on future direction.  The use of the claim “local” is still subject to prohibitions relating to false and misleading claims of the Food and Drugs Act as well as the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act.

Under the previous policy, the CFIA interpreted the terms "local", "locally grown", or any similar term to mean that:

  • the food originated within a 50 km radius of the place where it was sold, or
  • the food sold originated within the same local government unit (e.g. municipality) or adjacent government unit

The CFIA recognizes that this approach is outdated and does not reflect current food production practices or consumer needs and expectations.

It is important to note that claims such as “local” are voluntary and industry are encouraged to add qualifiers such as the name of a city to provide consumers with additional information. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the regulated party to comply with applicable legislation and regulations.

Link: Canadian Food Inspection Agency