U.S/CANADA – United Fresh Produce Association, the industry’s leading trade association, and the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) have released the Second Edition of the USA/Canada Labeling Guide to support industry understanding of the differences and similarities for labeling compliance in both countries.

With significant changes to both the U.S. and Canadian regulatory and business requirements, the two associations collaborated to create the guide, designed to be the first point of reference for companies shipping to one or both markets.

The Guide is designed to be a user-friendly tool for use by those involved in the design of fresh produce labeling and packaging to be shipped and distributed in the U.S.A. and/or Canada, including Quebec, for both consumer prepackaged products and cases/shipping containers (including reusable plastic containers).

It discusses and provides some examples with detailed graphics, of the requirements for labeling fresh-cut produce to be entered into commerce in both Canada and the U.S.A.

The second edition reflects changes such as the addition of the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) Harmonized Case Label, changes in product identification, new U.S. GMO labeling requirements and changes to nutrition labeling in Canada.

It also entails the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations requirements, including new traceability requirements for prepackaged fresh fruits and vegetables. In the new guide, members can access information for both consumer items and case/shipping containers of fresh fruits and vegetables.

“We know that members in the U.S. and Canada rely heavily on this guidance and anticipate that the revision will be a useful resource,” said Miriam Wolk, United Fresh’s Vice President, Member Services.

CPMA’s Vice President of Policy and Issue Management Jane Proctor added that collaboration of associations to meet member needs is a key component of efforts.

“This newly revised Guide reflects the commitment to providing the best resource for the industry,” she noted.

Labelling requirements

For goods destined to Canada, every container of imported produce shall be labelled to show the words “Product of”, “Produce of”, “Grown in“, or “Country of Origin”, followed by the name of the country of origin of the produce, or other words which clearly indicate the country in which the produce was grown.

In contrary, in the United States, a statement of the country of origin on the labeling of imported foods is not required by the Federal Food, Drug, & Cosmetic Act. This is a requirement of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)* as authorized by the Tariff Act of 1930 and CPB regulations.

According to US regulations, save for apples, there is no explicit requirement that fresh fruits or vegetables that have been graded must bear the grade mark on their packaging or master containers. However, grade name declaration is mandatory on the principal display panel, for a consumer prepackaged fresh fruit and vegetable (FFV) product for which there is a Canadian grade standard.

In line with the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations which came into force on January 15, 2019, new licensing, preventive control, and traceability requirements are mandatory for food businesses that import or prepare food for export or to be sent across provincial or territorial boundaries.

Under the new regulations in Canada the serving size for fresh fruits and vegetables is based on regulated reference amounts.

The Guide is complimentary for United Fresh and CPMA members and is available for download on both the United Fresh and Canadian Produce Marketing Association websites. It is not intended to provide legal advice and as such specific labeling decisions should be based on a review of actual regulatory documents.

The two organizations reached an agreement to join forces in March this year to create a new global trade association for the produce industry. They will continue to operate as independent organizations through 2021, with the new association to be launched Jan. 1, 2022

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