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Notice to Industry – Importation of Fresh Fruit and Vegetables with Sulphites

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is reminding importers that fresh fruit and vegetables intended to be consumed raw and that are treated with sulphites are not permitted for sale in Canada. Only grapes are exempt from this restriction.

Sulphites are sulphur-based substances that may be used by suppliers of fresh fruit and vegetables as preservatives to prevent product spoilage and discoloration during storage and transport. The presence of sulphites in fresh fruit and vegetables may present a serious or life threatening health risk for sensitive individuals. More information for people sensitive to sulphites is available on the Health Canada website.

All food offered for sale in Canada, whether domestic or imported, must comply with the requirements of the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations.

To ensure compliance, Canadian importers are encouraged to:

  • communicate to foreign suppliers that fresh fruit and vegetables entering Canada must meet regulatory requirements, including those for safety;
  • implement processes to verify that their suppliers have and can provide documentation to demonstrate that fresh fruit and vegetables are compliant with the Canadian food safety requirements;
  • verify the absence of sulphites (for example, by means of a letter of guarantee or certificate of analysis);
  • source fresh fruit and vegetables from foreign suppliers who do not use sulphites.

The CFIA continues to monitor the presence of sulphites on fresh fruit and vegetables intended to be consumed raw. When the CFIA finds cases of non-compliance, the Agency may conduct additional inspections, test incoming lots, and detain/seize and/or recall the product.

The CFIA will also inform the competent authority in the exporting country when non-compliance is identified.