The amendments to the current Food and Drugs Act, which were outlined by Health Canada, include the introduction of tools to help streamline regulatory processes while maintaining the same pre-market safety assessments.
According to Health Canada, current regulations have been known to cause long delays in the approval of products that are scientifically proven to be safe and affected its ability to quickly update food safety standards when new scientific evidence emerges.
Health Canada spokesperson Stephane Shank told FoodQualityNews.com that the regulatory changes will make for “prompter changes” to current legislation when new information becomes available.
The authority hope that these amendments will lead to swift regulatory changes in relation to food additives and products.
Reduce red tape
“Through these changes there will be a significant reduction in the time it takes to make regulatory amendments. This is without compromising the safety of products entering the market,” said Shank.
“When setting guidance and other regulations it can often take months.”
“They will continue to protect food safety but to also reduce the red tape that stops products reaching the market.”
The legislative amendments will see the introduction of two new tools – ‘marketing authorisation’ and 'incorporation by reference’.
‘Incorporation by reference’ will allow the management of approved product and ingredient lists by authorities outside the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
“Anytime these lists need to be changed there is a lengthy process. This ‘incorporation by reference’ will allow the management of these lists outside of regulations when new information becomes available.”
The ‘marketing authorisations’ amendment will give the Canadian minister of health the power to apply changes to current food safety regulations.
“There are certain maximum limits – for arsenic for one - where levels need to be changed; the CFIA would not be in a position to do that.”
“It is simpler now that the process has changed. I can assure that these amendments will lessen the burden of process,” added Shank.
Current regulations have delayed the update of regulations on substances including arsenic, despite scientific evidence which suggests that the listed tolerance for arsenic in fruit juice needs to be lowered.
“With these amendments, we will be able to more quickly reduce the maximum limits if new science justifies the change and once stakeholders have been consulted and their input considered,” said a document supporting the amendments.
“This will also improve the predictability and transparency of the regulatory process and any compliant and enforcement actions taken by the CFIA.”