Bilingual Labelling
Further Information on Bilingual Labelling

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Bilingual Labelling of Voluntary Information

In general information on labels and in advertisements that is not part of mandatory information (such as recipes on a can of soup or games on a box of cereal) is not subject to bilingual requirements at the federal level, although manufacturers and importers are encouraged to present such information bilingually. Some examples exist and are outlined below. It is recommended that provincial language requirements also be consulted, see Other Jurisdictions for more information.

Certain voluntary information, when added to labels or advertisements, is subject to additional regulatory requirements and must be presented bilingually. These are:

  • Organic Claims [Section 21, Organic Products Regulations] (for example, if a product subject to the Organic Products Regulations is labelled as "organic", the same claim such as "biologique" must appear in French on the product label);
  • Nutrient Content Claims [B.01.301(3)(a), B.01.305(4)(a), B.01.311(5)(a), B.01.501(a), FDR] (for example, a product that carries a nutrient content claim "9 g de lipides pour 1 bol (283 g)" in French must make the same claim "9 g Fat per 1 bowl (283 g)" in English);
  • Additional Nutritional Information included in the Nutrition Facts table [B.01.402(9)(a), FDR] (for example, when the Nutrition Facts table declares the optional nutrient "Sugar Alcohols" in English, the same declaration "Polyalcools" must be made in French); and
  • Health Claims found in the table following B.01.603 [B.01.600(a), FDR] (for example, when the health claim "Does not promote tooth decay" is used in English, the same claim "Ne favorise pas la carie dentaire" must be made in French).

Languages other than English and French

Other languages, in addition to English and French, may be used in labels and advertisements provided the mandatory information is shown in English and French on the label and the information in another language does not violate the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations, the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations, or any other federal legislation. Labelling and advertising information must be truthful and not misleading regardless of the language in which it is presented.

The format and presentation of the Nutrition Facts table are specifically prescribed and there is no provision for the use of other languages within the table. Although other languages are not permitted within the Nutrition Facts table, these could appear outside the Nutrition Facts table provided the Nutrition Facts table is shown in English and French on the label and the information in another language does not violate the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations, the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations, or any other federal legislation. Refer to Language in Presentation of the Nutrition Facts table for more information.

Net Quantity Symbols

Net quantity declarations are mandatory information and, therefore, must be bilingual, refer to Language and Symbols for more information. The list of SI (i.e. International System of Units) used in the net quantity statement are considered bilingual. When words rather than SI symbols are used as net quantity declarations, they must appear in both official languages. For example, the English word "gram" in the declaration "50 grams" should appear as "gramme" in the French net quantity declaration "50 grammes".

Words such as "net weight" that may precede or follow the net quantity declaration are encouraged to be in both French and English when used.

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