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CFIA Update on Simulated Meat and Poultry Proposal

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) recently released a report on feedback it received during its consultation with stakeholders and consumers regarding its proposal to develop guidelines for simulated meat and poultry products. The agency’s November 2020 proposal set out three categories of meat and alternative meat products and called for rules treating non-animal-based meats that simulate the look and taste of conventional meat differently than alternative meats that do not attempt to replicate the taste or look of conventional meat. Food businesses would be responsible for determining which of the below categories their product falls into and would need to follow the related requirements:

  • Category 1: Traditional meat and poultry products that meet CFIA’s standards of identity for meat products. The proposal does not change any regulations for Category 1 products.

  • Category 2: Simulated meat and simulated poultry products that intend to mimic the look and taste of conventional meat and act as a substitute for a Category 1 product (e.g., products that add components to simulate bleeding or fat marbling to mimic the appearance of traditional products).

    • The products must meet the minimum protein content and rating, fat content, and vitamin and mineral requirements of the meat or poultry product they intend to substitute. They must also meet certain fortification requirements.

    • The products would need to use the term “simulated” in their common name.  In doing so, a product may use traditional terms for meat and different meat cuts, meaning common names like “simulated chicken breast” or “simulated beef tenderloin” would be used.

    • The products would also need to declare “contains no meat,” provided that traditional meat is not used as an ingredient.

  • Category 3: Other products that do not intend to act as substitutes for meat or poultry products (e.g., tofu burgers and soy patties). Plant-based foods fall into this category.

    • These products may, but need not, declare “contains no meat” on their labels. However, they must be clearly labeled and advertised in a manner that accurately and truthfully describes the product.

    • The products are not required to be fortified, as they don’t intend to act as nutritional equivalents for traditional meat and poultry products.

CFIA conducted a public consultation on its proposal at the end of 2020. Its recently released report summarizes the feedback it received on the proposal. The report highlights are as follows:

  • A majority of respondents are confident distinguishing products that contain meat and those that do not.

  • A majority of respondents also support the use of traditional “meat” terms on non-animal-based foods, as terms like “meat,” “burger,” and “sausage,” are no longer exclusive to traditional meat products. Traditional meat industry and some consumer stakeholders disagreed, stating that the use of these terms misleads consumers about the true nature, nutrition, and composition of non-animal-based foods.

  • The plant-based and animal-based protein industries along with many consumers said that plant-based foods should not be compared to meat and poultry products and that they are separate and unique food products.

CFIA has stated it plans to release a revised proposal based on the feedback it received, noting that it plans to reassess the appearance section of the guidelines to differentiate between categories 2 and 3, clarify the compositional requirements for category 3 foods, and revisit the advertising and representations section of the guidelines.

© 2021 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 218

About this Author

Keller and Heckman offers global food and drug services to its clients. Our comprehensive and extensive food and drug practice is one of the largest in the world. We promote, protect, and defend products made by the spectrum of industries regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Commission and Member States authorities in the European Union (EU) and similar authorities throughout the world. The products we help get to market include foods, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, veterinary products, dietary supplements, and cosmetics. In addition...