Regulations for Culinary Herbs in Canada
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Judi Corbett
Posted on: October 9, 2000

Judi here again. Thanks for you help.

I looked over the info I got from you, the link is no longer operational.

I apologize, the correct URL new Canadian regulatory authority for medicinal herbs and herbal products, the Office of Natural Health Products, is .

The "hpb" stands for "Health Protection Branch". The Office of Natural Health Products is one of three directorates subordinate to the HPB; the other two are the Food Directorate and the Drug Directorate (now known as the ‘TPP’).

Now, I have another question. I want to grow cooking herbs, will the new medicinal regulations affect the cooking herbs? Is there anything else that I can look at? I want to supply restaurants, grocery stores, etc.

It is not expected that the new regulations from the ONHP will have any effect on culinary herbs. Culinary herbs are considered foods and as such are subject to the regulations of the Food Directorate at Health Canada.

In general, fresh foods, including fresh cut herbs, do not come under much scrutiny by Health Canada. There are no special licenses that are required and no special testing that is required. There are standards that foods must meet, but the assumption is that they are being met even if no testing is being done.

Processed and packaged foods come under more scrutiny, and licensing and good manufacturing practices are an issue. Of course, the rules are in force unevenly because thousands of small cottage and home-based processors making everything from bread to pickles, jams and jellies, pickles are doing so without monitoring by Health Canada. But once a food processor becomes larger and more successful inevitably the food regulations have to be abided by as Health Canada becomes aware of the processor.

I want to get the books that you have listed in your herb farming site. Any other suggestions where I can find anymore info?

The commercial growing and marketing books and conference transcripts that are available on the Richters website are an excellent start. There is more than enough material to help you get started.

Do we have an idea on when the new regulations are apt to be out?

The new medicinal herbs regulations are expected in be in force next summer (summer of 2001). Until then, medicinal herbs are regulated as foods or drugs under the old rules. Whether a product is considered a ‘food’ or ‘drug’ depends on a complex and confusingly arbitrary system put in place by the Food and Drug Directorates of Health Canada.

Although technically the old rules are still in force, many in the herb industry have the impression that the old rules are not being enforced as vigorously as in the past because the new ONHP is expected to overhaul the rules completely.

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