Food fortification in Canada is currently applied on a product-by-product basis under the Natural Health Products regulations.
The proposed fortification policy, tabled in 2005, would have allowed a wider range of foods to be fortified any of 15 nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, folate, niacin, and calcium.
However, in an e-mail to NutraIngredients-USA.com, the regulator stated: “Health Canada will not proceed at this time with proposed regulatory amendments for discretionary fortification that were in the 2005 proposed policy.”
The announcement comes after criticism of the proposals, which were said to be out of step with the nutritional needs of Canadians. Opponents of the move say that while increased food fortification may address inadequate intake of some nutrients, there is no evidence of inadequacies for niacin or several other nutrients which could be added under the new rules.
In a paper published in the Canadian Journal of Nutrition, Jocelyn E. Sacco and Valerie Tarasuk of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto said the government’s plans were “not rooted in an assessment of current nutrient intake patterns” and could potentially lead to excessive intake of some nutrients.
Heath Canada said it based its proposed policies on new Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs), which included both recommended intakes – as either Recommended Dietary Allowances or Adequate Intakes – and Tolerable Upper Intake levels for vitamins and mineral nutrients.
“The proposals (…) were not intended to address nutritional needs on a public health basis,” said the agency, adding that “it is indeed possible to get too much of some vitamins and mineral nutrients.”
“This is why the proposals for discretionary food fortification in the 2005 policy would have set specific limits on which nutrients could be added to food, how much of an individual vitamin or mineral nutrient could be added, and which foods could not be fortified at the discretion of manufacturers.”
Interim Marketing Authorization
It said it would press on with the implementation of the parts of its fortification policy, announced in 2005, that are currently under Interim Marketing Authorization. These include fortified plant-based beverages, enriched corn meal, and vegetable-based or vegetable and milk protein-based products which resemble cheese.
A spokesman added: “The Department will also move forward with the public health related amendments that would benefit Canadians based on updated science, and with the provisions that enhance protection and allow increased availability of products for some vulnerable consumers.”
Health Canada will continue to look at ways to oversee discretionary fortification in future, it said.