Veggie food

There are no specific legal regulations for vegan and vegetarian foods in Canada. Section 5(1) of the Food and Drugs Act states that “No person shall label, package, treat, process, sell or advertise any food in a manner that is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to create an erroneous impression regarding its character, value, quantity, composition, merit or safety.” As such, it is important food labels and advertisement are accurate when represented as vegan or vegetarian.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), takes the position that the term “vegetarian” is acceptable for any of the following vegetarian diets:

  • lacto-ovo (or ovo-lacto)-vegetarian – permits plant foods plus dairy and egg
  • lacto-vegetarian – permits plant foods plus dairy, no eggs
  • ovo-vegetarian – permits plant foods plus eggs, no dairy

The CFIA takes the position that “vegan” foods are made from only plant-based ingredients. However, the CFIA also recognizes that there are several definitions of “vegan”. As such, when making a claim, additional criteria can be applied.

Fortification of foods

The appearance of fortified foods is similar to that of conventional foods (e.g. yogurts, juices). They differ from these only in that nutritionally active substances such as vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients are added.

In Canada, only certain foods either must or may be fortified with vitamins or minerals without any specific approval from the regulator. For example, flour has very specific fortification requirements in Canada, and it cannot be sold without those fortifications. Other foods that either must or may be fortified (in accordance with the Food and Drug Regulations) include without limitation breakfast cereals, simulated meat products, simulated poultry products, foods for special dietary use, formulated liquid diets, meal replacements, nutritional supplements and foods represented for use in very low energy diets. It should be clear that these are very specific legal categories of food and are subject to very specific requirements.

In addition to the above, another class of foods are Supplemented Foods. Supplemented Foods are effectively prepacked conventional foods that do not fall within any of the other specific categories. These foods have added supplemented ingredients (fortifications). There are very specific requirements as to what supplemented ingredients can be added to what foods. In addition, there are quantity limits and labelling requirements.

For added clarity, dietary supplements sold in the form of capsules, tablets, powders and concentrated liquids are not generally considered food in Canada but are sold in Canada as Natural Health Products (NHPs).

Cannabis as an ingredient in food or supplements

In Canada, cannabis (which includes CBD), cannot be used as an ingredient in conventional food or supplements. However, in Canada, cannabis is legal when produced and sold pursuant to the Cannabis Act and Cannabis Regulations. A class of cannabis referred to as “edible cannabis” is effectively cannabis products intended to be consumed in the same manner as food (i.e. cookies, candy, bars etc.). However, edible cannabis can only be sold at locations permitted to sell cannabis.

At this time, dietary supplements (in Canada known as Natural Health Products (NHPs)) cannot contain any cannabis ingredients. As such cannabis products, including CBD, do not have claims in Canada.


This is general information rather than legal advice and is current as of 30 May 2024. We recommend you contact a specialised food lawyer for legal advice for your particular circumstances to support commercial decisions which could impact your product or business.