Shipping Containers

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For the purposes of this information, shipping containers include any outer receptacle in which foods are sold or distributed at levels of trade other than to consumers at the retail level. They are therefore often referred to as non-retail containers. The foods inside shipping containers may be in bulk (i.e. not further packaged inside the shipping container) or they may be further packaged into smaller units. Shipping containers may be destined for:

  • further industrial processing;
  • catering use;
  • use by a commercial enterprise or institutional such as a restaurant, hospital, school, etc.;
  • repackaging from bulk into consumer-sized packages;
  • resale directly from bulk consumer into consumer-sized portions, with the packaging done either by a clerk at the time of sale or by the consumer;
  • retailers who will remove the consumer sized units to display them for sale. 

As mentioned in the Labelling Legislative Framework, the Food and Drugs Act (FDA) & Regulations (FDR) apply to all levels of trade (i.e. retail and non-retail), whereas the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act (CPLA) & Regulations (CPLR) only apply to items that are being sold directly to consumers at the retail level. For this reason, the CPLA and CPLR do not apply to shipping containers (unless these same containers ended up being sold directly to consumers at retail).

The Weights and Measurements Act (WMA) & Regulations (WMR) also apply at all levels of trade, and include a requirement for a net quantity declaration on shipping containers. However, the WMA and WMR are not enforced by the CFIA. Refer to Measurement Canada for more information.

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