Presentation of the Nutrition Facts Table
Graphic and Technical Requirements within the Nutrition Facts Table
The Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) specifically prescribe where and how nutrition information must be displayed on each prepackaged food, whether on a Nutrition Facts table (NFT) affixed to the container or by some other permitted mechanism (such as on an Available Display Surface for tags). To ensure legibility, the graphic and technical requirements of the NFT are highly prescriptive. Sections B.01.450, B.01.460 and Schedule L of the FDR set specifications, with respect to:
- order of presentation of information;
- dimensions for type size (for different parts of the NFT), rules (lines forming the outer box, between nutrients and between sections of the NFT), and leading (for every line of information);
- spacing (between columns of information; between nutrients and the declaration of amounts; between the numerical declaration and the unit; and between the numerical declaration and Percent Daily Value (% DV), etc.);
- use of bold type; and
- use of capital letters.
The image below is Figure 1.1 (E) in Schedule L of the FDR and displays the graphic and technical requirements of the standard format NFT.
Standard Format Details
The Nutrition Facts table (NFT) must be in both of Canada's official languages (i.e., French and English), unless otherwise exempt from bilingual labelling. Please refer to the Bilingual Labelling section for more information about the general bilingual labelling requirements.
In a bilingual NFT, the order of languages may be reversed from the order shown in the formats section, (i.e., French before English) [B.01.450(6), FDR].
No other languages or Nutrition Facts tables from other countries are permitted within the NFT because the format and presentation of the NFT are prescribed by the FDR. Nutrition information in another language is permitted outside the table.
The Nutrition Facts table (NFT) must be on one continuous surface (definition) of the available display surface (ADS) [B.01.451, FDR]. It is not allowed to continue over edges and corners onto a second surface or panel.
For example, in the image below, the NFT crosses the corner onto another panel. This is not permitted.
However, with multi-sided containers where the angles are obtuse and a consumer can easily visually follow the labelling information across the angles, two or more panels may be considered a continuous surface of the ADS. For example, on an eight-sided Tetra Pak container, three panels may be considered one continuous surface of ADS (see image below). The sides of cylindrical containers are considered to be one continuous surface.
When there are two separate English and French NFTs, both must be placed either on the same continuous surface or on two separate continuous surfaces of the same size and prominence. When there is a single NFT, whether bilingual, unilingual English or unilingual French, it must appear in its entirety on one continuous surface.
For nutrition labelling purposes, note that the NFT may appear on any surface of the package, including the bottom of the food or container if the available display surface includes the bottom.
The Nutrition Facts table (NFT) must be oriented in the same manner as the other information on the label when there is sufficient space to do so [B.01.452(1), FDR]. This means printing the NFT standing "upright" or turned or tipped on its side (i.e., rotated 90°) so that the words in the table read in the same direction as the other words on the same panel (e.g., as viewed on the store shelf).
When there is insufficient space, the NFT may be oriented in another manner (e.g., the standard format may be tipped on its side, as displayed in the example below), provided there is sufficient space to do so and the food contained in the package will not leak out or be damaged when the package is turned to view the NFT [B.01.452(2), FDR].
When the NFT is displayed on either the top or bottom of the package, it is not required to be oriented in the same manner as other information on the label [B.01.452(3), FDR].
The Nutrition Facts table (NFT) must be visible under customary conditions of sale. For example, the outer packaging must not be destroyed or individual units manipulated in order to view the NFT. This applies to such packages as multi-packs of yogurt with individual units sharing a common lid. In addition, the NFT cannot be printed on the inner side of a label affixed to a bottle of clear liquid, such as vegetable oil, forcing the consumer to view the NFT through the contents of the container.
For information on the acceptable locations on a package for nutrition information, please refer to the Location Requirements section of the Legibility and Location page.
The NFT must be on an exterior facing surface at the time of sale, where the consumer can see the information, unless it is eligible for one of the alternate methods of presentation. It may not be hidden on an interior facing surface as shown in the image above. Since the product is sold as one unit, a NFT is not required on each cup. However, if the individual packages are ever sold singly, directly to the consumer, they would have to be labelled.
The information in the Nutrition Facts table (NFT) must be listed in the correct order, using the required nomenclature, units, rounding rules and the appropriate format. See the tables to B.01.401 and B.01.402 (FDR) and the Information within the Nutrition Facts Table and Elements within the Nutrition Facts Table sections for further information, including details about serving sizes and reference amounts.
All versions of the NFT must be set out in accordance with the format specified in the applicable figures in the Nutrition Facts Table Formats section. The core nutrients must always be declared in the order and in the units shown in the applicable format. Vitamins and minerals (other than sodium and potassium) are usually declared in the bottom part of the table.
Font is a style of print. A Nutrition Facts table (NFT) must use a single non-decorative "sans serif" font [B.01.450(3)(a), FDR]. "Serif" is a slight finishing stroke or projection off the main stroke of a letter, for example "S" contrasted with"S". Sans serif fonts are those fonts that do not have finishing strokes on the letters. Decorative fonts are also not permitted.
- Sans Serif Font: Arial and Helvetica are sans serif fonts; they are acceptable.
- Serif Font: Times New Roman is a serif font; it is not acceptable.
For example, the NFT in the image below uses a "serif" font. "Serif" fonts are not permitted for use in the NFT.
Decorative font: Decorative font such as cursive is not permitted in the NFT.
For example, the NFT in the image below uses a decorative font. This type of font is not permitted for use in the NFT.
While the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) do not prescribe the specific font that must be employed, there is a provision that not more than one font may be used in a NFT. The figures in the Nutrition Facts Table Formats section use Helvetica font. However, other sans serif fonts are permitted.
The NFT in the image below uses more than one font. Notice that the title "Nutrition Facts" and the serving size are in a different font from the rest of the NFT. The use of more than one font is not acceptable in the NFT.
Graphics software, such as QuarkXPress, will use any fonts that are already available on your computer. These templates were developed using Helvetica and Helvetica Condensed fonts, you may have to purchase these fonts if they are not already installed on your computer. Otherwise, the artwork software will provide you with the option of using another sans serif font. If you do use another sans serif font you will have to ensure that graphic elements will still comply with the specifications of the corresponding regulated figure.
Font Size and Width
The FDR sets out font width and font size for all versions of all Nutrition Facts table formats. You may find directions as to how to obtain format templates through the Compendium of NFT Templates section.
Larger versions of the formats require normal width font while many smaller versions are required to use condensed width fonts. However, fonts may not be reduced beyond a condensed width as it may decrease legibility. Characters may not touch each other or the lines.
Normal width font:
The font size is measured by the "point" unit. The size of the point varies from one system of typographical measurement to another. For the purposes of the Nutrition Facts table, an Anglo-American point is used which is equal to 0.3514598 mm [B.01.400, FDR].
Some common point measures in the standard formats for type size have been converted below:
- 6 point = 2.11 mm
- 8 point = 2.81 mm
- 13 point = 4.57 mm
Clarity and Legibility of Type
It is unacceptable to have fuzzy print within the NFT. However, label print may expand or bleed during some printing processes (such as the "flexo" process) and on some packaging materials (such as carton).
Therefore, label designers, printers and manufacturers must take these factors into consideration when designing a label. When bleed may be a problem, larger versions of the NFT should be used even when, based on the area of the available display surface, a smaller type would otherwise be acceptable. Or when necessary, lines and print should be reduced on the design or printing plates, to ensure that the final product is compliant with the FDR.
For example, the NFT in the image below is fuzzy and the characters touch. An NFT with poor clarity and legibility such as this is not permitted.
It is not permitted to highlight nutrients by using larger or smaller print than prescribed or by italicising or changing font.
For example, the declarations of “Omega-6 Polyunsaturated” and “Omega-3 Polyunsaturated” fats in the NFT below have been italicized to highlight their presence. Italicizing nutrients in the NFT is not permitted.
For example, in the NFT below, the font size of the declaration for “Dietary Fibre” has been increased to draw attention to this nutrient. The use of a larger font size in the NFT than that prescribed is not permitted.
For example, the declaration for "Omega-3 Polyunsaturated" fat has been highlighted in the NFT below. Highlighting of nutrients in the NFT is not permitted.
Leading is the space between lines of type. It is also known as "linespacing" in English and "interligne" in French. Leading is measured from the baseline of the letters in one line of type to the baseline of the letters in the line of type above it.
In the example below, the leading is the distance measured between the bottom of the letter "a" in "apples" and the bottom of the letter "m" in "mangoes" in the line above.
These mangoes are not ripe yet.
These apples are really red and juicy.
In the NFT, there is no leading prescribed above the first line of type. Therefore, leading is only applicable to lines of type below the first line. For example, in the Standard Formats [Figure 1.1 (E) Schedule L, FDR], there is no leading above the heading "Nutrition Facts" because there is no line of type above it. The lines in the box around the entire NFT are not lines of type and are not considered when measuring leading.
A "descender" is that part of a lowercase letter that extends below the baseline (applicable to the letters g, j, p, q, and y). The descender is not considered in the leading measurement (e.g., use only the round portion of the letter "p"). "Descenders" normally rest on the implied "descender line" which demarcates, in most instances, the lowermost limits of the characters of the font.
An "ascender" is that part of a lowercase letter that extends above the x-height (the main body of the typeface) in the letters b, d, f, h, k, l, t. "Ascenders" and capital letters (i.e., uppercase letters) normally reach to the implied "ascender line". Leading is not measured to the ascender line, but rather to the baseline of the line of type above.
Some common point measures in the standard formats for leading size have been converted below:
- 10 point = 3.51 mm
- 12 point = 4.22 mm
- 14 point = 4.92 mm
Please refer to the Nutrition Facts Table Formats section for more details about the different formats available.
A horizontal or vertical "line" is called a "rule". An easy way to remember this, is that a line can be drawn with a ruler. Rules enclose the Nutrition Facts table (NFT) in a box and divide or run between lines of type. These rules do not affect the leading measurement as the rule is a line, not a line of type.
For example, in the Standard Format [Figure 1.1(E), Schedule L, FDR], information in the NFT must be enclosed by a box with 0.5 point rule within 3 points of text. A "point rule" refers to the thickness of the rule.
A "1 point rule" or "2 point rule" specified in the templates available through the Compendium of Templates for Nutrition Facts Tables section may be displayed with larger dimensions in the NFT [B.01.450(4), FDR].
Some common point measures in the standard formats for rule size or "thickness" have been converted below:
- 0.5 point = 0.175 mm
- 1 point = 0.35 mm
- 2 point = 0.70 mm
Absence of Rules in Smaller Formats
For most formats, other than the horizontal and linear formats, there are thin lines (rules) between the vitamin and mineral declarations. However, with the smallest versions of most bilingual formats, the lines between the vitamin and mineral declarations are not present (see images below) [Figures 3.5-3.7, 9.5 - 9.6, 11.5 - 11.6, 13.5 - 13.6, 15.5 - 15.6, Schedule L, FDR].
In the Standard Format [Figure 1.1(E), Schedule L, FDR], "Saturated" is listed under "Fat". It has been indented 6 points. The 6 point indent is measured from the "F" in Fat, not from the edge of the box that is around the Nutrition Facts table (NFT).
Note the specification to the right of the NFT box illustrated in the Standard Format [Figure 1.1(E), Schedule L, FDR]. It explains that the edges of the enclosing box are "3 points of text" away from the type: "Text enclosed by a box with a 0.5 point rule within 3 points of text". Therefore, the word "Fat" must be 3 points from the edge of the box, making the word "Saturated" 9 points from the edge of the box.
Some common point measures in the standard formats for indent/spacing size have been converted below:
- 3 points of text = 1.05 mm
- 5 point spacing = 1.76 mm
- 6 point indent = 2.11 mm
Colour in the Nutrition Facts Table
Colour of Type
In the Nutrition Facts table (NFT), both characters and lines (rules) must be displayed in a single colour that is equivalent to 100 % black on a white or neutral background. Backgrounds may have a maximum 5 % tint [B.01.450(2), FDR].
If black ink has been used in the printing process, then the NFT should be printed in black. However, another dark colour will suffice when black has not been used. Dark blue, dark brown and dark green are acceptable. Light green, red, orange, yellow, silver and reverse printing (white printing on a dark background) are not acceptable.
For example, the light green print used in the NFT below is not acceptable.
Note that with some printing processes, dots of colour are printed on the edge of the packaging. These dots indicate the colours that have been used in printing the label. If black has been used, the NFT should be printed in black.
For example, the dots on the container below indicate that black has been used in the printing of this label. Since black ink has been used, the NFT should be printed in black and not in blue, as seen below.
The background colour in the NFT should be white or neutral, with a maximum 5 % tint. This level of tint provides only a slight colour to a background.
For example, the NFT below has a background with more than 5% tint. Backgrounds with more than 5% tint are not permitted.
Dark backgrounds are also not permitted, such as in reverse print shown in the image below (white print on a dark background). In general, neither are clear backgrounds, where the colour is provided by the product underneath the clear packaging.
However, some exceptions do occur. Because of the nature of the packaging material, fibre and Styrofoam egg cartons and brown paper bread bags are not required to have a white background. The NFT may be printed directly onto these surfaces without the application of a background colour as shown in the images below.
If the background of a package is the same colour as the box around the NFT, that is, the background colour is the visual equivalent of 100% black, it is acceptable that this be continuous with the 0.5 rule box around the NFT. In other words, no gap is needed around the NFT to make it visibly separated. This is because the background colour is outside of the NFT where the format specifications do not apply. However, if there is a possibility that the colour may bleed (or in printing terminology "get trapped") into the white NFT background this would not be acceptable as it would impact on the NFT meeting the format specifications.
Crowding of Information and/or Narrowing the Nutrition Facts Table
While the width of the Nutrition Facts table (NFT) is not prescribed by the FDR, the information must remain clear and legible at all times. Consequently, while the narrowing of the NFT is not prohibited, care must be taken to ensure that information does not become overcrowded. The columns for "Amount" and "% Daily Value" should not touch or overlap. This may also become a concern when normal width NFTs use fonts that have wider, more rounded characters than those of the Helvetica or Arial fonts. Although not set out in the Nutrition Facts Table Formats section, there should be a minimum of 2 spaces separating the "Amount" column (the farthest left on the label) and the "% Daily Value" column as shown below.
TEXT MISSING HERE
Adjusting the Nutrition Facts Table Rectangle
The Nutrition Facts table (NFT) may be widened. However, care should be taken not to widen the table so much that it becomes difficult to read. Readers must be able to visibly follow a line of information from the nutrient name to the % DV column.
When labels are widened to improve their appearance on the container (e.g., to fit the side of a package), it may be advisable to choose a larger version of the NFT, to facilitate legibility. Spacing between letters should not be distorted to widen the table.
Care should be taken to ensure that legibility is not compromised when widening the NFT.
Tapering the Nutrition Facts Table to Follow the Form of the Container
Schedule L of the FDR clearly sets out the form of the NFT – a rectangle with straight sides and right angled corners. The shape of the NFT may not be modified to follow the shape of the container, as shown below.
Dividing the Nutrition Facts Table
In some cases, the manufacturer may wish to divide the Nutrition Facts table (NFT) into two parts. This is allowed only when additional information is provided: the table may be divided only after the declaration of iron, as set out in Figure 19 of Schedule L, FDR shown below. No other manipulations or variations are allowed.
A basic NFT with core information cannot be divided into two parts. When it is absolutely impossible to fit a Standard Format (Standard, Narrow Standard or Bilingual Standard) that contains only core and triggered additional information on 15% of the Available Display Surface (ADS) and on one continuous surface (definition) in a manner that will not cause damage to the product when the package is manipulated to view the NFT, then a Bilingual Horizontal Format may be used.
In the image below, the NFT is incorrectly divided. The NFT may be divided only after the declaration of iron. In this example, the NFT was divided after the declaration of vitamin K.
Destruction of the Nutrition Facts Table Upon Opening of Package
The Nutrition Facts table (NFT) must not be placed in an area where it will be destroyed when the package is opened. This prohibition does not apply to single serving containers of food, such as a can of soft drink or a single frozen entrée. The NFT must not be printed on the tear strip or on the neck of these bottles as in all cases the NFT is destroyed when the package is opened, as seen in the examples below.
If the NFT is placed on the top of a yogurt six-pack, such as that shown in the images below, care must be taken that it will not be destroyed upon opening. The NFT should not exceed the lid of one individual container.
Single Use Containers
Certain containers are considered single use containers (definition). These containers are always discarded after opening and are never used to store the left over contents, e.g., fish or meat cans that are opened with a key, cake mixes. As these packages are thrown away after opening, the NFT may be placed over the metal tear strip, even though the NFT will be destroyed upon opening (see images below).
If manufacturers choose to place the NFT over the tear strip, then each side of the can is considered as one continuous surface (definition) of ADS and the size of the NFT is determined accordingly (i.e., choose the largest version of the NFT that will fit on 15% of the ADS and one continuous surface).
Note, however, that containers such as the meat can illustrated above require careful treatment. While the ADS of the can does not change, there are two acceptable methods of assessing the area that constitutes "one continuous surface", because the metal strip that opens the can essentially divides large continuous surfaces of ADS into smaller areas of ADS.
- If the NFT is placed over the tear strip (the manufacturer has chosen to ignore the tear strip), the product is treated as if it has four large continuous panels. That is, each side of the can is considered as one continuous surface. The size of the NFT is determined accordingly.
- If, however, the manufacturer chooses to place the NFT elsewhere on the can (not over the tear strip), then the metal tear strip divides the sides of the can into eight smaller areas of continuous ADS. The size of the NFT is determined accordingly. In this scenario, a smaller NFT may be acceptable. See the Nutrition Facts Table Formats section for more details about the decision trees.
Abbreviations and Symbols in the Nutrition Facts Table
Public consultations have supported the idea that readers often have problems with comprehension when abbreviations are used. The number of abbreviations permitted in the Nutrition Facts table (NFT) is therefore limited to the following:
- "% Daily Value" or "% DV" for the English expression "Percent Daily Value";*
- "% valeur quotidienne" or "% VQ" for the French expression "pourcentage de la valeur quotidienne"; *
- "Vit" for vitamin;
- "kJ" for kilojoules.
*Note that when the abbreviations "% DV" or "%VQ" are used, an asterisks (*) must link the abbreviation to an explanation of its meaning, elsewhere on the table, e.g., *DV = daily value, *VQ = valeur quotidienne (see example below).
The following symbols for units of measure must be used within the NFT and are considered bilingual:
- grams (g)
- millilitres (ml or mL)
- milligrams (mg)
The common abbreviations for the household measures indicated below are also acceptable in the NFT. The use of the abbreviations for teaspoon and tablespoon (in both French and English) should be limited to those labels where the full words will not fit. Short words such as "cup" and "tasse" should be written out in full.
- teaspoon - tsp (English only)
- tablespoon - tbsp (English only)
- cuillère à thé - c. à thé or cuil. à thé (French only)
- cuillère à soupe - c. à soupe or cuil. à soupe (French only)
Presentation of Certain Additional Information in the NFT
Note that when additional energy information is declared, the sub-heading "% Daily Value/ % valeur quotidienne" may follow the declaration of Calories, Calories from fat, and Calories from Saturated & Trans. This is permitted as these energy declarations may extend to the far right side of the NFT and would otherwise interfere in the % DV column if the subheading was placed above these declarations.
Notice the different manners of declaring the additional energy declarations in the images below: both manners are acceptable.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Note, that when omega-3, omega-6 and monounsaturates are declared, they line up with the "saturated + trans" declaration. However, when polyunsaturates are also declared the omega-3 and omega-6 are further indented. These two scenarios can be seen in the images below.
Tailoring of the Linear format and Language Specifications
The Linear Format is a rectangle. However, it may be tailored to the available space on the label and the outer dimensions of the package. Depending on the amount of information presented and the configuration of the label, the Linear Format may appear in different shapes, e.g., rectangle or square. Consequently, use of the templates for the Linear Format is limited.
The NFT below is in a square form of the linear format. It is acceptable to have a square-shaped linear NFT.
Both the English and French information may be in one box. However, all the information in one language must precede all the information in the second language. Languages may not be mixed. The image below displays an acceptable NFT in which the English and French linear NFT have been placed in one single box.
This NFT in the example below is incorrect: languages cannot be mixed in the Linear Format.
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