New Import Requirements for Food Products from China Containing Milk or Milk-derived Ingredients

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is advising all importers of food products from China containing milk or milk-derived ingredients that the Agency will require documentation demonstrating certain safety and compliance for these products. Importers are reminded of their responsibility for the safety of products imported into Canada. Under the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations, manufacturers and importers have primary responsibility to ensure that the foods they import and sell meets Canadian regulatory requirements.

Import requirements

For infant formula and baby food that contains milk or milk-derived ingredients, documentation will be required attesting that the product and its milk ingredients were not sourced from China. Documentation must be available for CFIA review upon request.

For infant formula and baby food that contains milk or milk-derived ingredients from China, documentation of analytical results will be required indicating that melamine levels do not surpass the interim standards set by Health Canada. Laboratory results must be obtained through a laboratory acceptable to the CFIA and results must be available for CFIA review upon request. For foods imported from China that contain milk or milk-derived ingredients, documentation of analytical results will be required indicating that melamine levels do not surpass the interim standards set by Health Canada. Laboratory results must be obtained through a CFIA-recognized lab and be available for CFIA review upon request.

Interim standards

The presence of melamine in food at very low levels is known to occur on occasion due to environmental exposure (e.g., from packaging or processing). The presence of low levels in food is not indicative of adulteration and at such levels does not pose a health risk. In other words, detection of melamine in a food product does not automatically indicate that there is a risk to human health.

For the purpose of differentiating between the presence of low background levels of melamine in food and the problem of intentional adulteration, Health Canada has set the following interim standards for melamine in products containing milk and milk-derived ingredients:

- Infant formula and sole source nutrition products, including meal replacement products – maximum of 1.0 part per million* (ppm); and

- Other food products containing milk and milk-derived ingredients – maximum of 2.5 ppm *.
[*These levels will apply to a combined concentration of melamine and cyanuric acid (a chemical generally found together with melamine).]

It remains Health Canada’s policy that levels of potential contaminants in infant foods should be kept as low as reasonably achievable.

These interim standards are set to ensure that all age groups and segments of the population are protected and were developed using a consistent approach adopted by other food regulatory agencies in Europe, Australia, New-Zealand and the United States. Should new scientific evidence become available, Health Canada’s risk assessment will be reviewed and the interim standards will be re-examined.

Government actions

The CFIA will be conducting random inland verifications to ensure that the above import requirements are being respected. Enforcement action, such as detention of products and other legal measures, may be taken by the CFIA if these import requirements are not met.

The CFIA will be conducting random verifications to ensure that the above import requirements are being respected. Enforcement action, such as detention of products and other legal measures, may be taken by the CFIA if these import requirements are not met.

For more information and to find out which laboratories are acceptable to the CFIA, please contact a
 CFIA Area Import Coordinator.