Labelling Requirements for Fats and Oils
Common Name – Fats and Oils

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For fat and oil products that meet one of the standards prescribed in Division 9 of the FDR, the name appearing in bold-face type in the FDR is the appropriate common name of that product.

Where there is no specific standard for a fat or oil in the FDR or other federal regulations, other national or international standards are referred to in order to determine an appropriate common name. For example, if there is a specific definition for a fat or oil in a Codex Standard, the Codex defined name of the fat or oil (including one of its acceptable synonyms) would be an acceptable common name of the food. In order to use the Codex defined name of the food, the fat or oil is expected to meet the compositional requirements for it as set out in the Codex standard.

For more information, including placement, language and type size of common name, refer to Common Name.

Common Name in List of Ingredients

Fats and oils used as ingredients in foods must be declared by their common name in the list of ingredients or, where there is a provision, by a class name. Refer to the List of Ingredients - Fats and Oils for more information.

Single Source Vegetable Oils

The common name of a vegetable oil that contains only one oil must be the specific name of the one oil present, i.e., "(naming the source) oil". For example, the common name of 100% canola oil must be "canola oil". The general term "vegetable oil" is not an acceptable common name by itself, although it may appear in addition to "canola oil".

For information on the declaration of single or multi-source vegetable oils in the list of ingredients, see Single or Multi-Source Vegetable Oils.

Multi-Source Vegetable Oils

"Vegetable oil" is an acceptable common name for an oil that contains more than one type of vegetable oil (and no other types of oil).

For information on the declaration of single or multi-source vegetable oils in the list of ingredients, see Single or Multi-Source Vegetable Oils.

Modified or Hydrogenated Oils

When a single oil has been modified or hydrogenated, the common name on the principal display panel and in the list of ingredients must include the word "modified" or "hydrogenated", as appropriate, e.g., "hydrogenated canola oil", "hydrogenated palm kernel oil", etc.

When two or more vegetable oils are present and one or more of them has been modified or hydrogenated, the common name on the principal display panel and in the list of ingredients must include the word "modified" or "hydrogenated", as appropriate, e.g., "modified vegetable oil", "hydrogenated vegetable oil", "modified palm kernel oil", etc. [B.01.010 (3)(a), Items 13 and 14, FDR].

Modified Oil Mixtures

The common name for mixtures of regular and modified vegetable oils can be "modified vegetable oil". Alternatively, a common name can be used which incorporates the individual ingredients of the product. For example, a mixture of 95% canola oil and 5% modified sunflower oil could be called either "modified vegetable oil" or "canola oil and modified sunflower oil".

Interesterified Fats

Since interesterification is not hydrogenation or modification, the FDR do not specifically require that "interesterification" be declared in the common name of the product. However, the CFIA encourages the use of the common name "interesterified (naming the vegetable oil)" unless the final food meets the standard for shortening [B.09.011, FDR]; in that case, the common name must be shortening.

Oils with Modified Nutritional Profiles

Some oils have been developed with nutritional profiles that differ from the traditional oil made from the same plant source. In most cases, these foods are subject to Health Canada's novel food assessment process. See Genetically Modified (GM) Foods and Other Novel Foods for more information.

Common names must accurately reflect the nature of the food. As such, an acceptable common name for an oil with a modified nutritional profile includes:

  • the plant source of the oil
  • the nutritional difference from the traditional oil

Examples: High oleic sunflower seed oil, Low linolenic acid soybean oil

Specifications for oils are outlined in various standards such as the Food and Drug Regulations and the Codex Standard for Named Vegetable Oils - PDF (298 kb). These specifications can be used to determine if the nutritional profile of a modified oil falls outside of the range of the traditional oil from the same plant source.

When there is a nutritional difference from the traditional oil, this needs to be reflected in the common name. Representations in the common name that characterize the amount of a fatty acid in vegetable oil are generally permitted - for example "High Oleic (naming the source) Oil" [B.01.502 (2)(i), FDR]. There may be more than one way to describe the nutritional difference in the common name, such as when the content of more than one fatty acid has changed (e.g. one fatty acid is increased and another has decreased). Note that in some cases, such as for high oleic acid sunflower seed oil, there is a Codex standard for the modified oil as well.

This type of common name (e.g. "high oleic (naming the source) oil") would trigger a declaration of the amount of fatty acid in grams per stated serving size outside the Nutrition Facts table [B.01.301 (1), FDR]. See Modified Fatty Acid Content Oil for information on Nutrition Labelling requirements when a representation in the common name characterizes the amount of a fatty acid.

Product Specific Common Names

Canola-quality Oil Derived from Brassica juncea

The common name "canola oil" is acceptable on the label of oil produced from low erucic acid Brassica juncea.

[Note: there are other types of Brassica juncea that are considered mustard plants and a source of mustard oil].

The Codex Standard for Named Vegetable Oils - PDF (298 kb) recognizes Brassica juncea as a source of low erucic acid rapeseed oil in the "Standard for Named Vegetables Oils", as follows:

2.1.13 - Rapeseed Oil - (Low Erucic Acid) - (low erucic acid turnip rape oil; low erucic acid colza oil; canola oil) is produced from low erucic acid oil-bearing seeds of varieties derived from the Brassica napus L., Brassica rapa L. and Brassica juncea L., species.

As there is no prescribed name for the oil of this plant in the Food and Drug Regulations or any other federal legislation, any of the names prescribed in the Codex Standard would be acceptable.

This approach is consistent with CFIA's Seed Program, which recognizes the name "Canola quality, Brassica juncea" for this plant and lists it under "canola" on the website index of varieties registered in Canada. This approach is also consistent with CFIA's Feed Section with respect to the meal derived from Brassica juncea.

This product has gone through a novel food assessment by Health Canada.

Flavoured Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Flavoured extra virgin olive oil could be described using the principles for Modified Standardized Common Names if the flavour is added as an ingredient and not used in its production. If used in the production of the extra virgin olive oil, the oil would be adulterated and would not meet the standard.

Acceptable modified common names for flavoured extra virgin olive oil include:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil with [Flavour/Seasoning/Ingredient Name] Flavouring;
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil with [Flavour/Seasoning/Ingredient Name]; or
  • [Flavour/Seasoning/Ingredient Name] Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

The common names listed above are acceptable because they are modified with the additional ingredient and it is clear that the product is not just extra virgin olive oil.

High Oleic Sunflower Seed Oil

The common name "high-oleic sunflower oil" is acceptable for an oil that meets the standard for that product in the Codex Standard for Named Vegetable Oils - PDF (298 kb).

See Modified Fatty Acid Content Oil and Oils with Modified Nutritional Profiles for more information on the labelling requirements when a representation in the common name characterizes the amount of a fatty acid.

Liquid Shortening

The common name "Liquid Shortening" is an acceptable common name for products that function as shortenings but that are in liquid form, rather than in "semi-solid" form as described in the standard for shortening.

Medium Chain Triglycerides

Medium chain triglycerides may be used as foods or food ingredients. When sold as a food, the acceptable common name is "Medium Chain Triglycerides". The abbreviation "MCT" is not acceptable. A label declaration of the source of the medium chain triglycerides, preferably on the principal display panel, is also recommended to alert allergic or sensitive individuals, e.g., "modified coconut oil".

Mid-Oleic Sunflower Oil

The common name "mid-oleic sunflower oil" is acceptable for an oil that meets the standard for that product in the Codex Standard for Named Vegetable Oils - PDF (298 kb).

For information on mid-oleic sunflower oil that has gone through a Health Canada novel food assessment, see Health Canada's page on Approved Products.

See Modified Fatty Acid Content Oil and Oils with Modified Nutritional Profiles for more information on the labelling requirements when a representation in the common name characterizes the amount of a fatty acid.

Olive Pomace / Residue Oil

Acceptable common names for oil derived from olive residues are "Olive Pomace Oil" and "Olive Residual Oil" (In French, "Huile de Grignons d'Olive" and "Huile de Residus d'Olive", respectively). This is based on usages sanctioned by certain foreign governments and by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. The term "Sansa Oil / Huile de Sansa" is not acceptable.

Palm Olein, Palm Stearin and Palm Superolein

Palm olein, palm stearin and palm superolein are produced from the fractionation of palm oil. When these oils are sold singly as a food, Palm Olein, Palm Stearin and Palm Superolein are the designated common names of these fatty acid modified oils (see Codex Standard for Named Vegetable Oils - PDF (298 kb)). All other fractions of palm oil should be called "modified palm oil" when sold as a food.

Vegetable Diacylglycerol Oil

Vegetable diacylglyceride oil (DAG oil) is vegetable oil that has been formulated to contain more than 80% diglycerides. The common name of a vegetable diacylglycerol oil should be "Vegetable diacylglycerol oil" or "(naming the source) diacylglycerol oil".

For information on vegetable diacylglycerol oil that has gone through a Health Canada novel food assessment, see Health Canada's page on approved products.

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