Government of Canada Announces Changes to National Beer Standards

OTTAWA, ON – Nearly five years after first being proposed, the Government of Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) have announced the implementation of new compositional standards for beer in Canada.

Published today via the Canada Gazette, the official regulatory definition of “Beer” is now as follows:

(a) shall be the product of the alcoholic fermentation by yeast, or a mixture of yeast and other micro-organisms, an infusion of barley or wheat malt and hops or hop extract in potable water;

(b) shall contain at most 4% of residual sugars; and

(c) may have added to it during the course of manufacture any of the following ingredients:

(i) cereal grain,
(ii) honey, maple syrup, fruit, fruit juice or any other source of carbohydrates,
(iii) herbs and spices,
(iv) salt,
(v) flavouring preparations,
(vi) pre-isomerized hop extract,
(vii) reduced isomerized hop extract, and
(viii) food additives to which a marketing authorization applies and that are set out in the Lists of Permitted Food Additives published on the Health Canada website.

Changes from the previous definition – which was unchanged for at least three decades – include:

  • The addition of “a mixture of yeast and other micro-organisms” to the first point.
  • The removal of a rule that the beverage must “possess the aroma, taste and character commonly attributed to beer.”
  • The addition of the clause regarding residual sugars.
  • Several changes to the list of allowable additives, including more details regarding carbohydrate sources, the addition of “herbs and spices” and “flavouring preparations”, and replacing a detailed list of other agents and preservatives with a reference to the Health Canada Lists of Permitted Food Additives.

Also new to the regulation is a clause indicating that “the name of any flavouring preparation added to a beer shall form part of the common name of the beer.” And a section defining “Ale, Stout, Porter or Malt Liquor” has been repealed, as it was redundant to the overall “Beer” definition.

Details of these changes were originally announced last summer, with a three month window provided for feedback from the brewing industry and the public. No notable modifications were made to the proposed changes as a result of these consultations.

Source: Canada Gazette

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