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Labelling requirements for alcoholic beverages

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Overview

Alcoholic beverages sold in Canada are subject to the provisions of the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) and the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR), as well as those of the Food and Drugs Act (FDA) and the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR).

When sold intraprovincially, alcoholic beverages are subject to the labelling requirements under the FDA and FDR, as well as specific requirements of the SFCA and the SFCR that apply to prepackaged foods sold in Canada, regardless of the level of trade. Depending on the type of alcoholic beverage, other federal acts or regulations not enforced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) may also apply, such as the Spirit Drinks Trade Act. Provincial regulations may also have labelling requirements that apply when these products are sold within that province.

Alcoholic beverages with prescribed standards in Division 2 of Part B of the FDR include whisky, rum, gin, brandy, liqueurs and spirituous cordials, vodka, tequila, mezcal, wine, cider and beer. In addition, the prescribed standard for icewine is included in Volume 8 of the Canadian Standards of Identity document, which is incorporated by reference (IbR) into the SFCR.

The labelling requirements detailed in the following section are specific to alcoholic beverages, both with and without prescribed standards. Refer to the Industry Labelling Tool for core labelling and voluntary claims and statements requirements that apply to all prepackaged foods.

Common name

Many alcoholic beverages have a standard of identity or composition prescribed in Division 2 of the FDR. For beverages meeting one of these standards, the common name appearing in bold face type, but not in italics, in the regulations must be used if that beverage has been imported or is intended for interprovincial trade. This also applies to icewine that is exported, as well as prepackaged icewine sold to consumers [9, 201, 202, SFCR].

The common name for an alcoholic beverage without a prescribed standard is the name by which the food is generally known or, when none is available, a name that describes the true nature of the product.

Generic terms such as "beverage", "drink", "cooler", "spirit", "liquor", as appropriate, are accepted within the common names of unstandardized foods. Examples:

The Common name for beer, Common name for flavoured purified alcohol and Common name for wine sections provide more information on common names for those specific types of alcoholic beverages.

For more information, including with respect to the placement and type height of the common name declaration, refer to Common name.

Geographical indications – Common name

For information on the use of geographical indications in the common name, refer to Geographical indications under Distinctive common names.

Names of spirits – Distinctive products

Under the terms of the Agreement Between Canada and the European Community on Trade in Wines and Spirit Drinks, Canada agreed to restrict the use of certain spirit drink names to spirit drinks originating from specific countries only. Protection of these spirit drink names is provided for in Canada in the Spirit Drinks Trade Act (SDTA) which is administered by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). A list of spirit drink names, protected under the SDTA, that can only be used to describe a product if the product originates in a specific geographic area can be found on AAFC website.

Language requirements – Common name

The common name must appear on food labels in English and French [B.01.012(2), FDR; 206(1), SFCR]. The following alcoholic beverage common names are considered bilingual common names under section B.01.012(10) of the FDR:

Advocaat or Advokaat, Akvavit, Americano, Anisette, Apricot Brandy Liqueur, Aquavit, Armagnac, Bourbon, Brandy, Calvados, Campari, Chartreuse, Cherry Brandy Liqueur, Crème de Banane, Crème de Bleuets, Crème de Cacao, Crème de Cassis, Crème de Menthe, Crème de Noyau, Curaçao Orange, Dry Gin, Fior d'Alpe, Grappa, Highland Whisky, Irish Whisky, Kirsch, Kummel, Liqueur de Fraise, Mandarinette, Manhattan, Marc, Martini, Ouzo, Pastis, Peach Brandy Liqueur, Poire William, Prunelle de Bourgogne, Rye Whisky, Scotch Whisky, Tequila, Triple Sec, Strega, Sake or Saki, Slivovitz, Sloe Gin.

List of ingredients – Alcoholic beverages

Standardized alcoholic beverages (those with compositional standards in Division 2 of the FDR such as beer, wine, rum and bourbon whiskey) are exempt from the requirement to show a list of ingredients on the label [B.01.008(2)(f), FDR]. This also applies to icewine which, in addition to meeting the prescribed standard in Volume 8 of the Canadian Standards of Identity document, also needs to meet the wine standard in Division 2 of the FDR.

Unstandardized alcoholic beverages (those for which there is no standard in Division 2 of the FDR) require a complete list of ingredients and their components [B.01.008(1)(b), FDR]. Therefore, products such as sake, cocktails (martinis, mojitos, etc.), pernod, and ouzo require a list of ingredients.

For more information on declaring the list of ingredients when required, refer to List of ingredients and allergens.

For information specific to beer, see List of ingredients and food allergen, gluten and added sulphite labelling for beer.

Food allergens, gluten and added sulphite labelling – Alcoholic beverages

Added allergens, gluten sources and sulphites at a level of 10 ppm or more must be declared when present in alcoholic beverages [B.01.010.1(2), FDR]. This requirement applies to bourbon whisky and standardized alcoholic beverages, even though these are exempt from declaring a list of ingredients [B.01.008(2)(f), FDR]. It also applies to unstandardized alcoholic beverages. Beer is no longer exempt from declaring food allergens, gluten source and added sulphites. For more information on how to declare these on beer labels during the transition period until December 13, 2022, see Product specific information for beer.

For more information refer to List of ingredients and allergens.

Nutrition labelling – Alcoholic beverages

Beverages with an alcohol content of more than 0.5% are usually exempt from carrying a Nutrition Facts table [B.01.401(2)(b)(i), FDR].

This exemption may be lost in certain situations, for example when a nutrient content claim is made or when an unstandardized alcoholic beverage contains added sucralose, aspartame or acesulfame-potassium. For more information, refer to Reasons for losing the exemption. Alcoholic beverages with added sweeteners are also required to meet the labelling requirements for these artificial sweeteners.

The alcohol by volume declaration is not considered to be a nutrient content claim and therefore does not trigger nutrition labelling [B.01.502(2)(j), FDR].

For more information refer to Nutrition labelling.

Alcohol by volume declaration

All alcoholic beverages containing 1.1% or more alcohol by volume must declare the percentage by volume of alcohol contained in the product [B.02.003, FDR].

The alcohol by volume declaration must be that of the product as sold.

Example:
If a product is sold in a multiple serving bottle with two compartments, containing two different liquors with different contents of alcohol by volume and the product is intended to be poured in such a manner as to form a layered drink of the two liquors, it is not acceptable to declare on the main panel the single alcohol content of the final beverage, when poured according to instructions, and to declare the individual alcohol content of the two different liquors on the back label. Due to the variability of proportions that could occur when the beverage is poured, the separate alcohol by volume declarations are required as the main panel declaration. The intended combined declaration may be shown voluntarily elsewhere on the label.

Manner of declaring – Alcohol by volume declaration

The percentage by volume of alcohol must be shown as "X % alcohol by volume" or be abbreviated "X % alc./vol." or "X% alc/vol". Alternatively, the percentage may be in the middle of the declaration and shown preceded by the abbreviation "alc." or "alc" and followed by the abbreviation "vol." or "vol" (for example: "alc X% vol" or "alc. X% vol.") [B.02.003, FDR].

Location – Alcohol by volume declaration

The alcohol by volume declaration must be shown on the principal display panel (definition) [B.02.003, FDR]. For wine containers, the principal display surface (definition) includes any area, excluding its top and bottom, that can be seen without having to turn the container, as per paragraph (g) of the principal display surface definition [1, SFCR].

Language – Alcohol by volume declaration

The alcohol by volume declaration must be shown in both English and French [B.01.012(2), FDR]. The French translation is "X % d'alcool par volume". When abbreviated, the statements "X % alc./vol.", "X% alc/vol", "alc X% vol" and "alc. X% vol." are fully bilingual.

Advertising – Alcoholic beverages

Radio and television advertising for alcoholic beverages is regulated under the Radio Regulations and Television Broadcasting Regulations, under the Broadcasting Act. Broadcasters must adhere to the Code for Broadcast Advertising of Alcoholic Beverages to maintain a Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunication Commission (CRTC) license. In response to a request from the alcoholic beverage advertisers and the broadcasters, Advertising Standards Canada (ASC) has established the Alcoholic Beverage Advertising Clearance Section to review and assign a clearance approval number to advertising copy.

Voluntary claims & statements – Alcoholic beverages

Use of the term "light"

"Light" may be used to describe the following alcoholic beverages which contain the alcohol levels indicated in the table below:

Use of the term "light"
Alcoholic beverage Alcohol by volume
Cider 4% or less
Wine 9% or less
Whisky 25% or less

In the case of the above alcoholic beverages, it is assumed that through long-established practice, most consumers understand "light" to be a reference to lower alcohol content. No further qualification of "light" is required on labels and in advertisements of these products provided that the declaration of the percentage of alcohol by volume appears prominently on the principal display panel of the label, and that "light" is not used to refer to some other aspect or characteristic of these products.

If "light" is used to describe a reduction in some constituent other than alcohol, then it must satisfy the conditions established by the regulations for nutrient content claims for light as a sensory characteristic or light as a reference to the reduction in fat or of energy [B.01.502, B.01.513, FDR]. In addition, any impression created by the use of a "light" claim must not be misleading as per subsection 5(1) of the FDA and subsection 6(1) of the SFCA.

For beer, section B.02.132 of the FDR requires the use of specific terms, such as "extra light" and "light", based on the alcohol content. See Common name for beer for more information on the use of the term "light" in reference to these products.

Low alcohol

"Low alcohol" is an acceptable claim for a product with less than 1.1% alcohol by volume. "Contains less than (naming the percentage alcohol)" is also acceptable on low alcohol products.

Vodka-flavoured claims

Alcoholic beverages to which artificial flavouring preparations have been added to simulate the "taste" or sensory experience of vodka, but do not contain vodka, are considered acceptable, provided that it is clearly and prominently communicated to consumers that "Vodka flavoured" is referring to an artificial flavouring preparation rather than the addition of vodka as an ingredient. As with all products, the label and advertising cannot be false or misleading, or create an erroneous impression regarding the composition of the product.

Age claims

It is recognized that aging plays a key role in the traditional brewing process. If increasing the time taken for the manufacturing process results in definite taste characteristics, certain claims relating to this aging process may be acceptable.

When materials introduced during processing contribute detectable characteristics to the final product, references to taste may also be made (for example, Beechwood aged taste). The sections Age claims for brandy, Age claims for gin, Age claims for rum and Age claims for whisky provide more details on the use of age claims for these products.

Foreign certificates of age and authenticity

Foreign certificates of age and authenticity for alcoholic beverages are accepted when they have been issued by a foreign government. Similar treatment is given to certificates issued by third parties that are recognized as valid by government officials of the issuing country. Certificates may be questioned when such acceptance is not evident.

Use of the term "dry"

In the case of alcoholic beverages, the term "dry" is not regarded as a sugar content claim and does not trigger the application of the Nutrition Facts table, providing no other statements or claims are made about the sugar content. The sections Use of the term "dry" for gin, Use of the term "dry" for liqueur, Use of the term "dry" for rum, Use of the term "dry" for whisky, Use of the term "dry" for vodka and Use of the term "dry" for wine provide more details on the use of "dry" claims for these products.

Government warning on imported alcoholic beverages

The following statement is acceptable in Canada. It is currently required in the U.S. on the labels of alcoholic beverages.

"Government Warning: In accordance to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects. Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery and may cause health problems."

Product specific information for beer

Note

On April 15, 2019, amendments to the compositional standard for beer and the repeal of the exemption for food allergen, gluten and added sulphites labelling requirements for beer of the Food and Drug Regulations came into force. Regulated parties have a transition period until December 13, 2022 inclusively, to meet the new requirements.

Consult the Former – Product specific information for beer for more information on the former requirements.

Common name for beer

Section B.02.132 of the FDR establishes mandatory common names or qualified common names as outlined below for beer based upon alcohol content.

Common names
Percentage of alcohol by volume Qualified common name or common name
1.1 to 2.5 Extra light beer
2.6 to 4.0 Light beer
4.1 to 5.5 Beer
5.6 to 8.5 Strong beer
8.6 or more Extra strong beer
Low alcohol beer

"0.4% alcohol beer" is an acceptable common name for a beer that meets the Food and Drug Regulations' standard for beer but contains 0.4% alcohol. Section B.02.132 of the Regulations establishes common names for beer that contain 1.1% alcohol or more (extra light beer to extra strong beer). Since there are no requirements for the common name of beers that contain less than 1.1% alcohol, this common name is considered to reflect the nature of the product.

Source of Carbohydrates

Section B.02.130 of the FDR sets the standard for beer and indicates that several ingredients may be added "during the course of manufacture". These ingredients include sources of carbohydrates.

The intended function of a "source of carbohydrates" when added to beer is not specified in regulation. Although there is no regulatory definition for "source of carbohydrates", this term is interpreted to mean an ingredient whose single largest component is carbohydrate and which is used to assist in fermentation, or to enhance the flavour, body, or colour of the product. A non-exhaustive list has been provided to clarify the regulatory intent: honey, maple syrup, fruit, fruit juice or any other source of carbohydrates [B.02.130(1)(c)(ii), FDR].

Manufacturers should be able to demonstrate that an ingredient is composed primarily of carbohydrates, i.e., that carbohydrate is the largest single component of the ingredient.

The reference to "during the course of manufacture" in the beer standard is interpreted to include both during fermentation and post-fermentation processing up to and including the packaging of the final product. Therefore, a beer with a source of carbohydrates added at any time during the course of manufacture and containing no more than 4% by weight of residual sugars (definition) would be in compliance with B.02.130 of the FDR.

Herbs and spices

Herbs and spices are allowed to be added during the course of manufacturing regardless of their carbohydrate content, as per the beer compositional standard [B.02.130(1)(c)(iii), FDR].

Micro-organisms

A mixture of yeast and other micro-organisms can be used for fermentation, as per the standard [B.02.130(1)(a), FDR].

Flavouring Preparations

Flavouring preparations (definition) may be used in the manufacture of foods to impart or modify an odour or taste. The beer standard allows for flavouring preparations in beer. However, their use triggers an additional labelling requirement. The specific flavouring preparation used shall form part of the common name (e.g. "beer with blueberry flavour") [B.02.130(2), FDR]. This clearly identifies to consumers that flavouring preparations were added to a beer.

Maximum percentage of residual sugars

The standard requires beer to contain no more than 4% by weight of residual sugars (definition). Products not meeting this requirement cannot use "beer" as a common name; they must use an appropriate common name (for example "a blend of beer and grapefruit juice").

Food additives

The beer standard does not include naming each food additive permitted, but rather includes a general provision that allows for the presence of permitted food additives. Specific food additives permitted in beer and the permitted maximum levels of use are remaining in the Lists of permitted food additives (Lists). The food industry needs to consult the Lists for the most up-to-date information on the use of permitted food additives, including those permitted in beer along with their full conditions of use. Permitted food additives must be determined by consulting the Lists, rather than identifying each specific food additive in the beer standard.

Processing aids

A food processing aid is a substance used for a technical effect in food processing or in manufacture (e.g. substance added to minimize the foaming in the kettle or fermenter during beer processing). Its use does not affect the intrinsic characteristics of the food and results in no or negligible residues of the substance or its by-products in or on the finished food. The Food and Drug Regulations do not typically list processing aids in compositional standards, with the exception of wine, honey wine and pectin. In beer, the processing aids are not listed as part of the standard. For more information, refer to processing aids.

Ice beer

Ice beer is an acceptable claim for a beer subjected to the process of freezing and removal of the ice crystals so formed. The common name used for such a product must be based on the alcohol content of the beverage as outlined above in Common name for beer, with "ice" as optional additional information.

List of ingredients and food allergen, gluten and added sulphite labelling for beer

Beers, including beers made with flavouring preparations, are exempted from the requirement to declare a list of ingredients on the label [B.01.008(2)(f), FDR]. However, prepackaged beers are required to declare food allergen sources (such as wheat), gluten sources (such as barley) and added sulphites (such as sulphurous acid) [B.01.010.1(2), B.01.010.2(3), FDR]. If ingredients on the label of a beer are voluntarily declared, then food allergen sources, gluten sources or added sulphites could be declared as part of that list. If not, then a "Contains" statement is required.

See List of ingredients and allergens for more information.

Use of the term "light" for beer

For information refer to Common name for beer and Use of the term "light".

Gluten-free beer

For information refer to Gluten-free beer.

Product specific information for brandy

Country of origin for brandy

Brandy that is wholly distilled in a country other than Canada requires a country of origin declaration on the label [B.02.060, FDR]. This declaration must be shown in both English and French [B.01.012(2), FDR]. A minimum type height of 1.6 mm based on the lowercase "o" is considered to meet the legibility requirements of the Food and Drug Regulations [A.01.016, FDR]. The declaration may be shown on any part of the label, other than that applied to the bottom of the container [B.01.005(1), FDR].

As the standards for Armagnac [B.02.051, FDR] and Cognac [B.02.053, FDR] require these products to originate from a specific area, the common name implies a specific origin and a country of origin statement is not considered mandatory for these two products.

Age claims for brandy

Claims regarding the age of brandy are limited to the time the brandy was stored in small wood, (defined as casks or barrels) of not greater than 700 litres capacity [B.02.001, FDR] or in other wooden containers. Brandy other than Armagnac, Canadian Brandy, Cognac, Dried Fruit Brandy, Fruit Brandy, Grappa, Lees Brandy, and Pomace or Marc, including any domestic or imported spirit added as flavouring, must be aged and held in small wood for at least 6 months or in wooden containers for at least one year [B.02.061, FDR].

See also Age claims for general information, including on foreign certificates of age and authenticity.

Product specific information for flavoured purified alcohol

Common name for flavoured purified alcohol

Common names that have been associated with flavoured purified alcohol (definition) include "flavoured alcohol beverage," and "flavoured malt beverage."

The labels of these products may include the names of standardized beverages (for example, vodka, gin) if the beverage is identified as a mix. An example is flavoured malt beverage and vodka mix. For additional information, refer to Health Canada's Guidance on the regulations respecting flavoured purified alcohol.

Product specific information for gin

Age claims for gin

Claims regarding the age of gin are prohibited with the exception that gin that has been held in suitable containers may bear a label declaration to that effect [B.02.043, FDR].

See also Age claims for general information, including on foreign certificates of age and authenticity.

Use of the term "dry" for gin

Gin may be labelled or advertised as "Dry Gin" or "London Dry Gin" if sweetening agents have not been added [B.02.041(c), FDR]. The standard for "Gin" provides for the addition of a sweetening agent [B.02.041(b)(ii), FDR].

See also Use of the term "dry" for general information on dry claims for all alcoholic beverages.

Product specific information for liqueur

Common name for liqueur

When the flavour is shown on the label of a liqueur, the flavour designation becomes part of the common name and therefore should be grouped with the word "liqueur". When there is no indication of the flavour, the word "liqueur" suffices as the common name.

Liqueur with cream
An alcoholic beverage is not permitted to use the common name "liqueur" if it contains cream as an ingredient, as cream is not permitted in the liqueur standard [B.02.070, FDR]. Cream cannot be added indirectly as a flavouring preparation as it is not considered to be a flavouring preparation. Any addition of cream makes the final product an unstandardized alcoholic beverage which requires a list of ingredients. A word such as "liquor" could be used in the common name of such an unstandardized alcoholic beverage.
Fruit spirit with added maple syrup
A product made from fruit spirit and 13% pure maple syrup may not be described as a "liqueur" or "maple flavoured liqueur" as it does not meet the standard of composition for a liqueur in the Food and Drug Regulations [B.02.070, FDR]. The following common names would be acceptable: "fruit spirit with maple syrup" or "maple flavoured liquor".
Liqueur made from artificial flavour
An alcoholic beverage made only from alcohol, a sweetening agent and artificial flavour may not be called a "liqueur" because it does not conform to the standard for liqueurs [B.02.070, FDR]. However, an alcoholic beverage made solely from alcohol, a sweetening agent and a natural flavour may be called a liqueur, as natural flavour is a "preparation of sapid or odorous principles or both, derived from the plant after which the flavour is named" [B.10.005, FDR], and thus fulfils the liqueur standard.

Use of the term "dry" for liqueur

The minimum sugar content required for liqueurs is 2.5% [B.02.070(b), FDR]. Although the level in many liqueurs is often well beyond this minimum, it is questionable whether the term "dry" is a meaningful description.

See also Use of the term "dry" for general information on dry claims for all alcoholic beverages.

Light liqueurs comparison statements (Lower alcohol claim)

When making a comparative claim for the reduction in percent alcohol on the label of a light liqueur, the base point of 23% alcohol could be used, as this is the minimum level required by the standard for liqueurs [B.02.070, FDR]. A comparative statement to the effect that the product "Contains at least (X) % less alcohol than regular/standard liqueurs" would then be accurate. If, however, comparison is made to a specific brand, then the actual alcohol content of that brand should be used for comparison. Representations that characterize the amount of alcohol in alcoholic beverages that contain more than 0.5% alcohol are provided for in paragraph B.01.502(2)(j) of the FDR. The percentage difference stated in the comparative claim must be accurate and not misleading.

See also Comparative claims on the Composition and quality page for additional information.

Light liqueurs with non-nutritive sweetening ingredients (Reduced energy claim)

A liqueur that differs from the standard in that it is sweetened with a non-nutritive sweetener such as sucralose may be described as a "light liqueur", if the product meets the requirements for the nutrient content claim "light" by meeting the conditions for a "reduced in energy" claim. The "Light" claims section outlines the compositional and labelling criteria that must be met, including the provision of supporting information for the light claim.

This claim causes a loss of exemption from the Nutrition Facts table requirement for the product [B.01.401(3)(e)(ii), FDR].

The following requirements apply in this case, in addition to the basic labelling requirements for alcoholic beverages:

Product specific information for rum

List of ingredients for rum

Flavouring preparations added to rum do not trigger the requirement for a list of ingredients. For example, the addition of a guarana extract to rum does not trigger the requirement for a list of ingredients on the product. As the guarana extract is added to the rum as a flavouring preparation, it is deemed to be acceptable under the standard for rum [B.02.030, FDR] and therefore a list of ingredients is not required.

Country of origin - Caribbean rum

The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations require a declaration of "geographic origin" which is less specific than a "country of origin". The declaration "Imported from the Caribbean" is therefore acceptable.

Age claims for rum

Claims for the age of rum are restricted to the time the rum was stored in small wood. Rum, including any domestic or imported spirit added as flavouring, must be aged in small wood for not less than one year [B.02.031, FDR].

Younger rum can be blended with an older rum, for example 12 year old rum, and under certain conditions retain that age claim. Section B.02.030 of the FDR provides for rum to contain "flavouring" as defined in B.02.002. The Excise Act permits up to 9.09% of the total quantity of absolute ethyl alcohol in the product (which equates to 10% by weight) flavouring in the rum. Subsection B.02.031(1) of the FDR requires the rum to be aged a minimum of 1 year in small wood and subection B.02.031(2) also requires the flavouring portion to be aged at least 1 year in small wood. Revenue Canada has interpreted this and their regulations (Circular 203-1) to mean, a twelve year old rum can contain flavouring up to 9.09% that is aged less than 12 years but at least 1 year, and it is still considered to be 12 year old rum. If more than 9.09% of younger rum is added, the claim 12 year old rum would no longer be acceptable.

See also Age claims for general information, including on foreign certificates of age and authenticity.

Use of the term "dry" for rum

In rum [B.02.030, FDR], where sugar could be added indirectly as part of the flavouring, the range of residual sugar content is very small and not readily detectable. Thus, the use of the term "dry" could be misleading and should not be used.

See also Use of the term "dry" for general information on dry claims for all alcoholic beverages.

Use of the term "light" for rum

Historically, the term "light", in relation to a rum, is recognized as a description of the colour and/or flavour of the product, and therefore need not be further qualified when used in this way. The claim "light" on rum does not trigger a Nutrition Facts table [B.01.513(2), FDR]. The alcoholic beverages section on Use of the term "light" provides additional information.

Product specific information for vodka

Note

On June 26, 2019, amendments to the compositional standards and labelling requirements for vodka of the Food and Drug Regulations came into force. Regulated parties have a transition period until December 13, 2022 inclusively, to meet the new requirements.

Consult the Former – Product specific information for vodka for information on the former requirements.

Vodka compositional requirements

Vodka has a prescribed compositional standard in Division 2, Part B of the FDR.

Vodka can be produced from potatoes, cereal grains and any other material of agricultural origin (definition); the distillate must be treated with charcoal or subject to other material or process so that the vodka is without distinctive character, aroma or taste.

Additional labelling requirements

Vodka requires additional labelling when produced, in whole or in part, from material of agricultural origin (definition) other than potatoes or cereal grain. The statement "Produced from" followed by the name of all material of agricultural origin used is required to be in close proximity (definition) to the common name. For example, if vodka is produced from potatoes and apples, it shall carry the statement "Produced from potatoes and apples" in close proximity to the common name "vodka"; if vodka is produced solely from potatoes, no such statement is required.

Allergen-free claims and vodka

Manufacturers making Allergen-free claims such as "(naming the food allergen)-free" and "contains no (naming the food allergen)", must ensure there is absolutely no amount of the named food allergen source present in the product, whether through intentional or inadvertent means. Any representation (statement, image or advertising) that states, suggests or implies that a food allergen source is not present when it is present would be considered false and misleading information under subsections 5(1) of the Food and Drugs Act and 6(1) of the Safe Food for Canadians Act.

For information about gluten-free claims for vodka, please see Gluten-free and vodka.

Flavoured vodka may not qualify for allergen-free claims, as flavouring preparations and other ingredients added after distillation may contain allergens.

Added sulphites at a level of 10 ppm or more must be declared when present in vodka, and may be shown in a "food allergen source, gluten source and added sulphites statement" (definition) [B.01.010(2), FDR].

Use of the term "dry" for vodka

The standard for Vodka does not provide for the addition of sugar or other sweetening agents [B.02.080, FDR]. For this reason, the description "dry" is potentially misleading and should not be used.

See also Use of the term "dry" for general information on dry claims for all alcoholic beverages.

Vodka-flavoured claims on alcoholic beverages

See Vodka-flavoured claims for general information on vodka-flavoured claims for all alcoholic beverages.

Product specific information for whisky

Age claims for whisky

Claims for the age of whisky are restricted to the period during which the whisky was stored in small wood. Whisky other than Bourbon [B.02.022, FDR] and Tennessee [B.02.022.1, FDR] must be aged at least three years in small wood, except that any domestic or imported spirit added as flavouring need only be aged for two years [B.02.020(2), B.02.023, FDR]. Where Canadian Whisky has been aged in small wood for at least three years, any period not exceeding six months during which that whisky was held in other containers may be claimed with respect to the age [B.02.020(3), FDR]. For example, Canadian Whisky aged three and a half years in small wood and eight months in glass containers may claim an age of four years.

See also Age claims for general information, including on foreign certificates of age and authenticity.

Use of the term "dry" for whisky

In whisky [B.02.010, FDR] where sugar could be added indirectly as part of the flavouring, the range of residual sugar content is very small and not readily detectable. Thus, the use of the term "dry" could be misleading and should not be used.

See also Use of the term "dry" for general information on dry claims for all alcoholic beverages.

Use of the term "light" for whisky

For information on the claim "light", including as a reference to the alcohol content of whisky, refer to Use of the term "light".

Product specific information for wine

Common name for wine

Dealcoholized wine

"Dealcoholized" means that the alcohol content has been reduced to less than 1.1 %. Reduced alcohol wine that has not had its alcohol content reduced to this level is not considered to be "dealcoholized" and would have to be described by a common name such as "partially dealcoholized wine". The percentage of alcohol by volume contained in "partially dealcoholized wine" must be declared on the label.

Any ingredients that are permitted in wine are permitted in dealcoholized wine. A list of ingredients may or may not be required on the label of "dealcoholized wine", depending on whether permitted ingredients are added before or after dealcoholisation. For permitted ingredients added before dealcoholisation, during the course of manufacture of the original wine ingredient, a separate list of ingredients is not needed. Ingredients added after dealcoholisation, directly to the dealcoholized wine, must be declared in the list of ingredients, e.g., "dealcoholized wine, sugar, glucose, etc."

"Dealcoholized wine" is an acceptable common name if single strength grape juice (sweet reserve) is added to the wine product, as it is an acceptable industry practice. It may also contain added water but only to replace the amount removed during the dealcoholisation process. However, if ingredients not permitted by the wine standard, other than grape juice and water, are added to the product either before or after dealcoholisation, the common name "dealcoholized wine" is not acceptable. The product could instead be called "dealcoholized wine beverage" or "dealcoholized wine with (naming the ingredient)", etc., and a list of ingredients would be required.

Flavoured wine

A flavoured wine containing 17% alcohol may carry the common name "flavoured wine" and use descriptions such as "fortified grape wine with citrus juice and herbs", since the alcoholic content of the wine is close to that of other fortified wines such as sherry. In this example, the product would be required to comply with the standard for flavoured wine [B.02.105, FDR], and the ingredient represented as juice must meet the corresponding juice standard.

Net quantity declaration for wine

Wine that is displayed for sale to consumers and bottled in a 750 mL container that is no taller than 360 mm in height may declare the net quantity in letters of at least 3.3 mm in height [229(3), SFCR]. This is an exception to the type height requirements for the net quantity, and means that 750 mL bottles of wine (no taller than 360 mm) with a principal display surface of more than 258 square centimetres (40 square inches) are allowed to have a smaller type for declaring net quantity, i.e. 3.3 mm instead of 6.4 mm (or instead of 9.5 mm or 12.7 mm, depending on the principal display surface). Use of this exception is optional - wine that is packaged in this way may also declare the net quantity using the type height described in the Legibility and location section of the Net quantity page.

Principal display surface for wine

For wine containers, the principal display surface (definition) includes any area, excluding its top and bottom, that can be seen without having to turn the container, as per paragraph (g) of the principal display surface definition [1, SFCR]. This has the effect of allowing labelling information that is required to be located on the principal display panel of wine, including net quantity, country of origin, common name and alcohol by volume, to be presented in a single field of vision.

Standardized container sizes for wine

Consumer prepackaged wine bottled after January 1, 1979 may only be interprovincially traded or imported into Canada in a container of a size that corresponds to a net quantity by volume of 50, 100, 200, 250, 375, 500, or 750 millilitres or 1, 1.5, 2, 3 or 4 litres [187, 188(1), SFCR].

This container size requirement does not apply to consumer prepackaged wine that is [188(2), SFCR]:

Country of origin for wine

A clear indication of the country of origin is required on all standardized wine products described in B.02.100 and B.02.102 to B.02.107 of the FDR. This declaration must be shown in English and French [B.01.012(2), FDR] and must appear on the principal display panel [B.02.108, FDR].

For wines from the U.S., a statement such as "Blush Merlot of California" would fulfill the requirement for a country of origin declaration on the label of a wine as the requirements do not specify the wording of the country of origin statement; and it is unlikely that anyone would be misled regarding the origin of the product (knowing that California is part of the U.S.).

Wines which are blended in Canada from domestic and imported wines may list the countries in order of proportion or alternatively be labelled as:

"Imported" is listed first when the imported wine makes up the largest proportion of the product. "Domestic" is listed first when the domestic wine makes up the largest proportion of the product.

Use of the term "dry" for wine

In relation to wines, the term "dry" refers to a low residual sugar content in the wine, i.e., most of the sugar has been fermented into alcohol. The term "dry", therefore, means the product has little or no sugar. There is, however, a large measurable range in the sugar content of wines. The actual sugar content of what would be perceived and described as a "dry" wine varies with the specific type of wine. For example, a dry sherry wine would have more residual sugar than a dry table wine.

See also Use of the term "dry" for general information on dry claims for all alcoholic beverages.

Use of the term "light" for wine

For information refer to Use of the term "light".

Icewine

The icewine standard set out in Volume 8 of the Canadian Standards of Identity document specifies that the terms icewine, ice wine or ice-wine may only be used for wine that is made exclusively from grapes naturally frozen on the vine. In addition, any words that are similar to, abbreviations of, symbols for or phonetic renderings of icewine may only be used in reference to wine that meets the icewine standard. This applies to both domestically produced and imported icewine. For domestically produced icewine, an entity acting under the authority of the law of the province in which the product was made must also determine that the product meets the standard [202, SFCR].

Provincial and territorial liquor boards

Alcoholic beverages sold within certain provinces and territories may have to meet specific requirements. Consult the provincial and territorial liquor boards links provided below for more information.

Note: The information on the Web sites available through the links in this section may not be available in both English and French.

Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission

British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch

Liquor Control Board of Ontario

Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Corporation

New Brunswick Liquor Corporation

Newfoundland Labrador Liquor Corporation

Northwest Territories Liquor Commission

Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation

Nunavut Liquor Commission

Prince Edward Island Liquor Control Commission

Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority

Société des alcools du Québec

Yukon Liquor Corporation

Definitions

Close proximity

Close proximity means, with reference to the common name, immediately adjacent to the common name without any intervening printed, written or graphic matter [B.01.001(1), FDR].

Flavoured purified alcohol

Flavoured purified alcohol means an alcoholic beverage:

Flavouring preparation

Flavouring preparation includes any food for which a standard is provided in Division 10 of the FDR [B.01.001(1), FDR].

Material of agricultural origin

Material of agricultural origin is defined as food ingredients from an agricultural source such as, but not limited to: fruit, vegetables, grain, honey or dairy products.

Other botanical substances

The term "other botanical substances" as used in Division 2 of the FDR does not include flavour preparations.

Residual sugars

Residual sugars, as defined in the FDR, are sugars that are still present in beer after the fermentation process has been completed.

Wine

An alcoholic beverage that meets the standard set out in section B.02.100 of the FDR [1, SFCR].

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