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Canadian Public Health Association

Milestones: safer and healthier foods

Canada enjoys one of the safest food supply systems in the world but 100 years ago, public health was threatened by contaminated food, water and milk. Illnesses such as typhoid fever, tuberculosis, botulism, and trichinellosis were common, and many Canadians suffered from malnutrition.

Handwashing, sanitation, refrigeration and pasteurization are some of the advances that have increased food safety over the years.


1915 - The city of Toronto passed a by-law requiring the pasteurization of all milk sold in the city.

1920 - The Food and Drugs Act came into effect regarding the production, import, export, transport across provinces and sale of food, drugs, contraceptive devices and cosmetics.

1934 - The Canadian Public Health Association launched the first formal training program in food inspection in Canada.

1934 - The Canadian Institute of Sanitary Inspectors is incorporated under federal charter.

1938 - Ontario is the first large jurisdiction in the world to implement compulsory pasteurization of milk.

1942 - Canada's first food guide was introduced, acknowledging wartime food rationing while endeavouring to prevent nutritional deficiencies and to improve the health of Canadians.

1949 - Iodinization of salt becomes mandatory, which eventually eliminates goiter throughout the country.

1954 - The Food and Drugs Act is strengthened to prohibit the preparation and sale of food, drugs or cosmetics under unsanitary conditions, with violations a matter of criminal law.

1972 - The first comprehensive national nutrition survey in Canada is completed. It founded common deficiencies of iron, calcium, vitamin D, and protein.

1994 - Canada is certified "polio free" by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

1997 - The Canadian Food Inspection Agency was created to enforce federal food safety policies and standards.

2004 - Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) provides the first national nutrition data since the Nutrition Canada survey was conducted nearly 35 years earlier.

2007 - Nutrition labelling became mandatory for all prepackaged foods.

2007 - Revised version of Canada's Food Guide: Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide is launched.