Unlike the United States, Canada has (since 1989) considered irradiation to be a process, not an additive.  Similar to the United States, Canada’s regulations state that irradiated foods must carry the radura, the international symbol indicating irradiation.

The Canadian Food and Drugs Act, Schedule No. 685, Regulation No. B.01.035 regulates food irradiation in Canada.  A petition process is used to approve irradiation for specific foods.  The irradiation or food processing industries petitions the Government and provides reason for using irradiation, and is expected to demonstrate the safety of the irradiated product. Health Canada, a regulatory body, then reviews the petition before opening it for public comment.  Unlike the speedy petition process of the United States, a petition for new irradiated food allowances in Canada can take up to five or ten years before public comments and approval.

On November 23, 2002, Health Canada notified the public that the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association has prepared a petition for the irradiation of red meat, while MDS Nordion (an irradiation company based in Kanata) has petitioned to irradiate shrimp, poultry, and several vegetables and fruits (including mangoes). There will be seven public meetings across Canada for the public to ask questions and raise objections, although the information presented is likely to be pro-irradiation.  The deadline for public comment was February 21, 2003, but the comment period has been extended and Health Canada does not appear to be moving forward very quickly with food irradiation.

The results of a 2000 Health Canada survey indicated 51 percent of Canadians favored irradiation while 42 percent said it was not a good idea. More than half of those surveyed said they would not buy irradiated food because of safety concerns. Discussion groups with consumers in four Canadian cities also revealed that consumers fear the long-term health effects of irradiation.