This chapter highlights selected labelling issues for further clarification. For convenience, these can be grouped as follows:
- definitions of selected terms,
- explanations as to how polices introduced in previous chapters are applied in specific situations, and
- labelling requirements, usually specific to a product or a given situation, not covered in the preceding chapters of this Guide.
Clarifications in this chapter are based solely on requirements found in the Food and Drugs Act (FDA) and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act (CPLA) and their respective Regulations. Other legislation, such as the Canada Agricultural Products Act and Regulations, the Meat Inspection Act and Regulations, the Fish Inspection Act and Regulations and provincial legislation should also be consulted when these apply to the product under consideration. The information provided here is not exhaustive, but highlights areas that may be more difficult to interpret.
This chapter follows the order in which items appear in the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR).
9.1 Prepackaged Meal Definition [Division 1, FDR]
A "prepackaged meal" is defined in B.01.001 as a prepackaged selection of foods for one individual that requires no preparation other than heating and that contains at least one serving, as described in Canada's Food Guide (see Health Canada's website: www.hc-sc.gc.ca) of:
- meat, fish, poultry, legumes, nuts, seeds, eggs, milk or milk products other than butter, cream, sour cream, ice-cream, ice milk and sherbet; and
- vegetables, fruit or grain products.
There are no specific labelling requirements for a prepackaged meal, when it is not packaged, sold or advertised for use in a weight-reduction diet, but the contents must meet the requirements of the above definition. For more information on foods represented for use in a weight-reduction diet see 9.9.6 of this Guide
For information on foods represented for use in weight maintenance, see Chapter 8 of this Guide.
9.2 Sweeteners and Sweetening Agents [Division 1, FDR]
Section B.01.001, FDR defines "sweetener" as any food additive listed as a sweetener in Table IX to B.16.100. Examples of sweeteners are aspartame, sorbitol, and maltitol.
"Sweetening agent" includes any food for which a standard is provided in Division 18 of the FDR, but does not include those food additives listed in the table to Division 16 [B.01.001]. Examples of sweetening agents are sugar, honey and molasses.
9.2.1 Aspartame, Sucralose and Acesulfame-Potassium [Divisions 1, 16, FDR]
Aspartame, sucralose, and acesulfame-potassium are sweeteners approved for use in foods under the Food and Drug Regulations [see B.01.014 and B.01.015 for labelling of aspartame, B.01.016 and B.01.017 for sucralose and B.01.019 and B.01.020 for acesulfame-potassium]. The label of a food that contains any of these sweeteners shall carry:
- a statement on the principal display panel that the food "contains (name of the sweetener)" or is "sweetened with (name of the sweetener)", in letters of at least the same size and prominence as required for the numbers used in the numerical portion of the net quantity declaration as per Section 14, CPLR;
- if any of these sweeteners is used in conjunction with another sweetener or sweetening agent, including those in Division 18, a statement on the principal display panel that the food "contains" or is "sweetened with (name of the sweetener and [name of the other sweetener or sweetening agent])", e.g., "sweetened with aspartame and sucralose" or "contains aspartame and xylitol" or "sweetened with aspartame, fructose and sugar", in letters of at least the same size and prominence as required for the numbers in the numerical portion of net quantity declaration;
- a Nutrition Facts table
- the (name of the sweetener) content expressed in milligrams per serving of stated size on any part of the label, except in the Nutrition Facts table, grouped together with the ingredient list [B.01.008(1)];
- in the case of aspartame, a statement grouped together with the ingredient list [B.01.008(1)], that aspartame contains phenylalanine;
- in the case of a food that is a tabletop sweetener
that contains aspartame, sucralose or acesulfame-potassium, either singly or in
combination, in addition to the information in (a), (c), (d) and (e) above, the
- shall carry, a statement of the sweetness per serving expressed in terms of the amount of sugar needed to produce an equivalent degree of sweetness, grouped with the ingredient list [B.01.008(1)]
9.2.2 Polydextrose [Divisions 1, 16, FDR]
The label of a food containing polydextrose shall indicate the amount of polydextrose, expressed in grams per serving of stated size [B.01.018]. This statement may be shown on any part of the label, except in the Nutrition Facts table, and must be grouped with the ingredient list [B.01.008(1)].
9.2.3 Sugar Alcohols [Divisions 1, 16, FDR]
The presence of sugar alcohols in a food, more specifically lactitol, maltitol, maltitol syrup, mannitol, sorbitol, sorbitol syrup, xylitol, erythritol, hydrogenated starch hydrolysates and isomalt, triggers a declaration of the sugar alcohol content in the Nutrition Facts table. The content is expressed in grams per stated serving size. For details on the manner of expression and the rounding rules, see Table 6-2 of this Guide [B.01.402 and the table to B.01.402].
9.2.4 Cyclamate and Saccharin Sweeteners [Division 1, Part E, FDR]
Saccharin or cyclamates are not permitted in foods and are considered adulterants when added to a food [B.01.046, E.01.001].
Cyclamate and saccharin sweeteners may be sold for direct consumer use, under specified conditions [E.01.002].
- Saccharin sweeteners may only be sold in pharmacies [E.01.002].
- No representation other than the name, price and quantity of the sweetener may be made when advertising cyclamate and saccharin to the general public [E.01.003].
The following cautionary statements must appear on the label:
- in the case of cyclamate, a statement that the sweetener should only be used on the advice of a physician [E.01.004(1)]; and
- in the case of saccharin, a statement that continued use of saccharin may be injurious to health, and that the sweetener should not be used by pregnant women except on the advice of a physician [E.01.004(2)(b)].
The label must show:
- a list of ingredients;
- the quantity of each of the following in the sweetener: cyclohexyl sulfamic acid, a salt of cyclohexyl sulfamic acid, a saccharin, a saccharin salt or carbohydrates, where present; and
- the energy value expressed in Calories per teaspoonful, drop, tablet or other measure used in the directions for use and per 100 grams or millilitres of the sweetener. [E.01.005].
9.3 Chocolate and Cocoa Products [Division 4, FDR]
Chocolate and cocoa are different products, with chocolate having a considerably higher cocoa butter content than cocoa. It should not be implied that products containing cocoa contain chocolate. In the case of a few foods where "chocolate" has traditionally been used as part of the common name, such as chocolate pudding, chocolate cake, chocolate cookies, chocolate cake (mix) and chocolate frosting (icing), there is no objection to the use of the word "chocolate" to indicate the flavour of the final food, since consumers are not likely to be deceived by such use. Advertisers are reminded that under 7(2), CPLA, a "false or misleading representation" includes any representation that implies, or may reasonably be regarded as implying, that a prepackaged product contains any matter not actually contained in it.
Compound coatings, which are products having the appearance but not the composition of chocolate, are often used as an outside layer or coating for biscuits, candy and frozen confections or as chips within baked goods. There should be no indication in the advertisements for these products that the coatings are "chocolate". However, "chocolate flavoured", "chocolate-like" and "chocolaty" have been accepted as appropriate descriptions of such coatings and chips.
9.4 Dairy Products: Milk and Milk Products [Division 8, FDR]
Division 8, FDR, has a number of specific labelling requirements for dairy products that have not been reproduced here. Examples of these are the percent (%) milk fat and moisture declarations on some products. As well, the Canada Agricultural Products Act includes the Dairy Products Regulations with additional labelling requirements. Provincial regulations should also be consulted for more labelling requirements.
Milk, unless otherwise designated, refers to cow's milk [B.08.003]. The standards for fluid milks are set and enforced by municipal, provincial and federal authorities. Division 8, FDR provides a number of standards for fluid milks and other dairy products. Milk from an animal other than a cow must include the animal source of the milk.
As with all foods with a standard of identity, the use of a common name of a standardized dairy product is restricted to foods that meet the provisions set out in the standard for composition, strength, potency, purity, quality or other property for that food. See Chapter 4 of this Guide for further information on common names. [6, FDA; B.01.001]
The appropriate common name must be used when referring to a milk product. For example, "skim milk powder" should not be referred to as "milk" or "powdered milk", nor should "chocolate partly skimmed milk" be called "chocolate milk". It is generally considered acceptable to identify a product by use of a trade name or a coined name providing the product has first been clearly identified by its common name [5, FDA] and the coined or trade name would not mislead the consumer.
- For example, it would be considered acceptable to refer to partly skimmed milk containing 2% butter fat by a trade name such as "Sun's Glo 2%" if the product is first clearly designated on its label and in an advertisement as "partly skimmed milk" or "partially skimmed milk".
In lengthy descriptions, the designated common name should be used the first time the common name appears. Subsequent references to the product within the same description may use a modified version, providing the modified common name is not misleading. Names such as "2% milk" constitute an improper use of the common name "milk" and should not be used, unless accompanied by the common name "partly skimmed milk".
A food that deviates from the prescribed standard may not use the common name prescribed by the applicable standard unless the standardized common name is modified to indicate how the food differs in every respect, from the food described by the standard.
- For example, Cheddar Cheese must contain a minimum of 31% milk fat. A cheese made exactly like cheddar cheese in every respect except for a lower milk fat content, would have to indicate, within the common name, that the product has a lower fat content than "cheddar cheese". Such a product might be called "Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese" providing all the compositional and labelling requirements for a "reduced fat" claim were met, see Chapters 5 and 7 of this Guide for more information on requirements.
- Another example of a modified standardized common name would be "Cheddar Cheese with hot peppers" to describe a cheddar cheese with added hot peppers, the hot peppers not being permitted in the standard for cheddar cheese.
Alternatively, a descriptive common name that does not incorporate the common name prescribed by regulation can be used. See 4.2.2 of this Guide for more information.
Highlighting the presence of a dairy ingredient, either within the common name of a food or as a separate claim, is often encountered. This should only be done when the dairy ingredient is present in a significant proportion and a statement of the amount of the dairy ingredient should be made in close proximity to the common name or claim. See 4.2.3 and 4.2.4 of this Guide for more information on highlighting or emphasizing ingredients in foods.
When a food includes a dairy flavour, such as cheddar cheese flavour, which is highlighted on the label, the words "flavour" or "artificial flavour" should accompany the flavour designation. When flavours are used to characterize a product, claims must not give the impression that the flavour is a result of the presence of a dairy ingredient.
This section has been repealed.
9.5 Fats and Oils [Division 9, FDR ]
The Food and Drug Regulations have standards of identity for fats and oils in Division 9. Some provinces also have regulations that should be consulted for specific requirements.
The claim "contains (naming the percentage) (naming the oil)" in advertisements for margarine should always be based on the percentage of oil by weight of the total product. When one type of oil is named, all the oils used in making the margarine should be named. For example, if a margarine is made from a mixture of corn oil, cotton seed oil and soybean oil, it would be considered misleading to refer only to the corn oil content in an advertisement for the margarine. On the other hand, the mixture of oils could be correctly referred to as "vegetable oils". (See Mandatory Common Names of Ingredients and Components, Chapter 2, Annex 1 of this Guide.)
9.6 Fresh Fruits and Vegetables [Division 11, FDR]
The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations of the Canada Agricultural Products Act and applicable provincial regulations should also be consulted for labelling information such as standards of identity and grade markings.
Beverages which include the name of a fruit within the common name must be labelled and advertised to distinguish them clearly from standardized juices. When fruit juice is present in a significant quantity in a beverage, its inclusion within the common name or as part of a claim is considered acceptable. The statement that the beverage is "flavoured" or is "made in part with fruit juice" is acceptable when the amount of juice present is stated. For more information, see 4.2.3 of this Guide on ingredient claims.
Products containing at least 25% of a single juice (as consumed), may incorporate the name of the juice within the common name of the food, e.g., "(naming the fruit) juice drink", A (naming the fruit) juice beverage or "(naming the fruit) juice cooler". However, since this type of common name emphasizes the juice content of the product, it could create an erroneous impression with respect to the actual juice content of the product. A declaration of the percentage of juice present should appear on the principal display panel of the label, clearly and prominently displayed, in a type size at least as large as that required for the numerical portion of the net quantity declaration.
When the percentage of juice is less than 25%, the word "juice" may not appear in the common name of the food. However, a claim separate from the common name, such as "made with X% fruit juice" may be made. De-characterized juices must NOT be included in the calculation of the percentage of juice present.
Note that a de-characterized juice cannot be declared as "(naming the fruit) juice" in the list of ingredients since it no longer meets the standard for fruit juice in B.11.120, or any of the specifically named fruit juice standards in the Food and Drug Regulations. "De-acidified (naming the fruit) juice", "de-coloured (naming the fruit) juice" and "de-flavoured (naming the fruit) juice" can be claimed, as applicable.
When only artificial flavour is used, claims must not give the impression that juice or natural fruit flavour is present. Where natural fruit flavours are used, the product may be described as "containing natural fruit flavours or flavours derived from fruit".
While flavour claims such as "has the taste of freshly-squeezed orange juice" are generally acceptable, care must be exercised to ensure these are not used in a manner that misleads consumers about the true nature of the product.
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