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Sports Nutrition Products


As a seller, you are legally responsible to ensure that all food products sold or distributed by you meet the requirements of the Food and Drugs Act and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and their respective Regulations.

If you sell Sports Nutrition Products, we recommend you do a thorough examination of the labels and composition of these products available for sale. If you find product that is in violation of the applicable Act or Regulations, you should arrange a course of action to correct the non-compliance.

The CFIA has offices located across the country and can provide answers to questions regarding interpretation of the Acts and Regulations. The CFIA enforces the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations to protect the health of Canadians and to prevent product misrepresentation and fraud.

Resources

Basic Product Information (Labelling and Composition)

Sports Nutrition Products

Sports Nutrition Products include but are not limited to protein and / or carbohydrate-based products, meal replacements and nutritional supplements, beverages, foods that contain natural health products, foods that are labelled or advertised with drug claims, and weight loss products marketed for quick weight loss or muscle definition. These products often have label claims related to increasing endurance, tolerance to fatigue or exercise (reducing exertion), muscle building or other metabolic effects beyond those that can be normally expected from nutrition. These statements may be considered to be claims that bring the product under the definition of a drug. See below. For more information about requirements for the sale of drugs and health products, contact your nearest Health Canada office or see their web site: at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca.

Common Violations

The status of a product is based on its composition as well as the claims made for it. According to the Food and Drugs Act, "a drug includes any substance or mixture of substances manufactured, sold or represented for use in:

  1. the diagnosis, treatment, mitigation or prevention of a disease, disorder, abnormal physical state, or its symptoms, in human beings or animals;
  2. restoring, correcting, or modifying organic functions in human beings or animals; or
  3. disinfection in premises in which food is manufactured, prepared or kept."

A product is classified as a drug if the ingredients present have recognized pharmacological activities or if the above types of claims are made. Drug products in Canada must have a drug identification number issued by Health Canada. Therapeutic or health claims are not permitted at this time for food products in Canada. These include metabolic claims, that is, claims as to what the food will do after it is ingested (e.g. for big muscles, for quick weight loss).

Common food violations include:

  1. the use of non-permitted ingredients;
  2. non-permitted addition of vitamins and minerals;
  3. non-permitted representation of food products for weight loss (B.24.003 of the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR));
  4. non-permitted claims including health claims, performance-enhancement claims and / or metabolic claims that fall into the meaning of parts (a) or (b) of the definition of a drug (see above), and claims that may be considered misleading to the consumer.

Basic Labelling Requirements

In Canada, the basic labelling requirements include:

  • common name on the principal display panel;*
  • net quantity in metric units on the principal display panel;*
  • numerical portion of net quantity which must be of a certain type height (see the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations);
  • principal display panel declaration of aspartame or acesulfame-potassium, if present in product;*
  • list of ingredients;*
  • legal agent's name and address (must be complete enough for Canada Post);
  • Canadian Nutrition Information table.*

* NOTE: mandatory information must be in French and English (except company name and address).

Vitamin and mineral addition to Sports Nutrition Products is limited to the following (see appropriate section of the Food and Drug Regulations for information on what nutrient may be added and in what amount):

  • fruit flavoured drinks and mixes (B.11.150 and B.11.151, FDR);
  • flavoured beverage mixes and bases recommended for addition to milk (D.03.002, FDR);
  • meal replacements (B.24.200, FDR);
  • nutritional supplements (B.24.201, FDR).

Weight Loss Products

Weight loss claims are restricted to those food products described for weight loss in Division 24 of the Food and Drug Regulations, which include meal replacements, prepackaged meals, foods sold by a weight reduction clinic to clients of the clinic for use in a weight reduction program supervised by the staff of the clinic, or very low-energy diets. Meal replacements and prepackaged meals for use in weight reduction diets are required to carry the statement: "USEFUL IN WEIGHT REDUCTION ONLY AS PART OF AN ENERGY-REDUCED DIET / UTILE POUR PERDRE DU POIDS SEULEMENT DANS LE CADRE D'UN RÉGIME À TENEUR RÉDUITE EN ÉNERGIE". (See B.24.202(e) or B.24.203(b), FDR).

Checklist for Retailers

Some label and composition violations are easy to spot, while others require a more in-depth knowledge. The following is meant simply as a tool to help you become more aware of what to look for in Sports Nutrition Products.

How to identify non-compliant product in your store

Canadian Requirements Checklist:

  • Does the product have an appropriate common name (e.g. whey powder, nutritional supplement (nutritional composition as per section B.24.201 of the Food and Drug Regulations), meal replacement (nutritional composition as per section B.24.200 of the Food and Drug Regulations))?
  • Does the product have net quantity in metric units on the principal display panel?
  • Does the product have English and French on the label?
  • Does the product have a name and address complete enough for postal delivery?

If you answered no to any of these questions, the label of this product may violate one or more of the current federal regulations. Contact your supplier.

Common Violations Checklist:

  • Does the product lack a common name or have an inappropriate common name such as diet supplement or muscle builder?
  • Is the net quantity absent or, if present, shown only in non-metric units (e.g., lb., oz)?
  • Does the product have English only on the label?
  • Does the product make metabolic claims, that is, claims as to what the food will do after it is ingested (e.g. for big muscles, for quick weight loss)?
  • Does the product list aspartame or acesulfame potassium in the ingredients but not on the principal display panel?
  • Does the product contain added amino acids (May be permitted only if formulated with other amino acids to be a complete protein with a protein rating of 20 or more)?
  • Does the product contain added caffeine, except in cola beverages and carbonated soft drinks?
  • Does the product contain substances considered unsuitable for use in sports nutrition products?
  • Does the product have US Nutrition Facts on the label?

If the answer to one or more of these questions is yes, then this product may be in violation of federal regulations. Contact your supplier.

The above is meant as a guideline and is in no way comprehensive as to product composition and labelling requirements.

Status of Substances Found in Sports Nutrition Products

To ensure a safe food supply, all foods sold in Canada, whether domestic or imported, must meet the health and safety requirements of the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations. Enforcement is provided for in criminal law.

Section 4 of the Food and Drugs Act prohibits the sale of an article of food that:

  1. has in or upon it any poisonous or harmful substance;
  2. is unfit for human consumption;
  3. consists in whole or in part of any filthy, putrid, disgusting, rotten, decomposed or diseased animal or vegetable substance;
  4. is adulterated; or
  5. was manufactured, prepared, preserved, packaged, or stored under unsanitary conditions.

In addition, specific regulations limit the addition of certain substances to foods.

The following table is a list of ingredients that are not considered acceptable in sports nutrition products offered for sale in Canada. This list is not exhaustive but rather focusses on substances that have been encountered in these types of products.

Substances considered unsuitable for use in sports nutrition products

  • Anabolic Steroids
  • Branched chain amino acids (isoleucine, leucine, valine)*
  • Boron
  • Caffeine, except in cola beverages and carbonated soft drinks
  • Calamus, oil, extract or root
  • Carnitine
  • Catha edulis
  • Chitosan
  • Chromium Nicotinate
  • Chromium Picolinate
  • Chromium Polynicotinate
  • Citrulline
  • Cyclamates**
  • DHA (Docosahexanoic Acid)***
  • DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone)
  • DMSO (Dimethylsulfoxide)
  • EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid)***
  • Ephedrine
  • Ferulic Acid
  • Gamma Oryzanol
  • GBL (Gamma-butyrolactone)
  • GHB (Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid)
  • Glycine*
  • Homocysteine
  • Homoserine
  • Hormones
  • Melatonin
  • Norleucine
  • Olestra
  • Ornithine
  • Ornithine Alpha Keto Glutarate
  • Phenylpropanolamine
  • Saccharin**
  • Salatrim
  • SAMe (S-Adenosylmethionine)
  • Stevioside
  • Superoxide Dismutase (SOD)
  • Taurine
  • Tryptophan
  • *Tyrosine
  • *Vanadium
  • Vanadyl Sulfate
  • Yohimbine
  • Zinc Picolinate

* except when formulated with other amino acids to be a complete protein with a protein rating of 20 or more.
** except as a table top sweetener
*** when concentrated from its original source

Other:

  • Added amino acids except as provided for in section D.03.002 of the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR).
  • Any food additive not listed in the tables to Division 16 of the FDR, or not listed for use in unstandardized foods, or listed for use in unstandardized foods but at levels that exceed the maximums listed.
  • Added mineral nutrients except as provided for in section D.03.002 of the FDR.
  • Added vitamins except as provided for in section D.03.002 of the FDR.

Herbs considered inappropriate for use as food (toxic herbs*)

  • Acorus calamus
  • Arnica
  • Cascara sagrada
  • Chaparral
  • Comfrey
  • Ephedra
  • Germander
  • Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica)
  • Horsetail
  • Kava Kava
  • Magnolia officinalis
  • Pleurisy Root (Asclepias tuberosa)
  • Senna
  • Stephania tetrandra
  • Yellow Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens)

* Medicinal herbs with no culinary use may be considered novel foods if added to foods. Consult with Health Canada.

Originally issued June 27, 2002 (Information Letter To Industry)