The Government of Canada announced in its 2014 federal budget
that it intends to modernize the compositional standards for beer
under the Food and Drug Regulations. Recognizing that
certain provisions in the Food and Drug Regulations are
not maximizing the potential for growth and innovation in the beer
industry, the government will be updating these compositional
standards to account for new styles of craft beer in the
EXISTING COMPOSITIONAL STANDARDS
Under the existing compositional standards, a narrow list of
permitted ingredients for standardized alcoholic beverages like
beer, ale, stout and porter is set out in sections B.02.130 and
B.02.131 of the Food and Drug Regulations. This includes
many of the ingredients traditionally used in the production of
beer, such as malt barley, wheat, hops and water. While beer and
similar beverages satisfying these requirements do not need to list
their ingredients on the label, those that do not conform to these
requirements (i.e., by adding additional ingredients) must have a
complete list of ingredients on the label in both English and
French and contain declarations regarding the presence of any
COMPLICATIONS FOR BREWERS
Brewers have raised concerns that these existing compositional
standards have been creating barriers to innovation by limiting the
ability for brewers to develop new and unique beer products. One
example referenced by the government is the difficulty that
Rickard's faced in getting its Cardigan Seasonal Spiced Lager
labelled as "beer" due to the addition of nutmeg, which
is not a permitted ingredient under the current compositional
standards. Similarly, the Pump House Brewing Ltd. faced delays when
launching its new Blueberry Ale because the existing labelling
standards would not permit both names to be placed on the
ENCOURAGING CREATIVITY & INNOVATION
While the contents of the proposed new regulations have not yet
been released, they are expected to provide a number of
clarifications that will broaden the existing compositional
standard for beer and create greater flexibility when labelling
beer products. The government hopes that these coming changes will
encourage creativity and innovation in the development of new and
unique beer products that can address evolving consumer tastes.
Given that the beer industry generates approximately C$14 billion
in economic activity each year (or, put another way, 0.9 per cent
of Canadian GDP) and accounts for 163,200 Canadian jobs,
encouraging creativity and innovation in the industry has been
identified by the government as an important goal and one we will
continue to monitor.
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