Consultation on the Proposed Amendments to Canadas Beer Standards of Identity

March 29, 2018 by Todd Sprieszl, Innovate Phytoceuticals


The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is moving to amend beer standards under the Food and Drug Regulations. Their goal is to show a better representation of industry innovation, while maintaining the integrity of the beer. The notice to amend the beer standards was released on June 17th, 2017 and was open for comments until August 15th, 2017.

What We Heard

Of the 161 submitted responses, there was a general agreement that the current ale, stout, porter and malt liquor standards should be removed and placed under the general beer standards. The majority of the public also agreed that companies should provide clarification about “carbohydrate matter” added to the beer and when such carbohydrates are added. There was a movement to remove the references to specific additives from the beer standard, as these are already in Health Canada’s “List of Permitted Food Additives.” Also, the public agreed that the removal of the aroma, taste and characteristics associated with the beer could be removed, as they are considered to be subjective.

Parts of the proposal that were not received well include, the movement to require “barley or wheat malt” in the definition of the beer. Although the majority of the brewers agreed that barley should be required as mandatory, it was noted that the malt portion could be derived from any cereal grain. This would allow for current beer-like products that contain ingredients derived from non-gluten containing grains, to be included in the beer standard.

The 4% limit in weight of sugar was taken with mixed reviews. Those who did not support this notion were concerned that it would hinder development of various styles of beer, including much of the craft beers. Others who supported this, argued that it would maintain the integrity of the beers being produced.

Moving Forward

Overall, many of the proposed changes to the standards for beer in Canada were received well. The general concerns across the public mainly pertained to allowing for innovation of the beer industry by not restricting the ingredients permitted. This was especially of concern with the proposed barley or wheat malt requirements and the 4% limit of sugar.

Using the feedback that they received, the CFIA will look to move forward with some of the amendments to the beer standards and hope to pre-publish a proposal in the coming months. Once this proposal is published, they will then allow for respondents to submit any additional comments.