Labelling requirements for confectionery, chocolate and snack food products
Standardized common names for chocolate and cocoa products
For chocolate and cocoa products that meet one of the standards in Division 4 of the FDR, the name appearing in bold-faced type that corresponds to that standard is the common name of the food. For example, the common name for a chocolate product meeting the standard provided in FDR B.04.006 is "Chocolate", "Bittersweet Chocolate", "Semi-sweet Chocolate" or "Dark Chocolate". Likewise, a chocolate product bearing the common name "Milk Chocolate" is expected to comply with the standard provided in B.04.008, FDR.
For more information, including placement, language and type size of common name, refer to Common Name.
Modified standardized common names for chocolate products
Products with a composition that differs from a standard of identity (e.g. added vegetable fats) are unstandardized foods and cannot use a standard common name on its own. A modified standardized common name that reflects how the food differs from the standard may be used.
Modified common name for chocolate containing additional ingredients (nuts, raisins, etc.)
If a chocolate bar contains additional ingredients such as whole nuts or raisins, this must be indicated in its common name (for example, "Dark Chocolate with Pralines" or "Milk Chocolate with Nuts"). This is necessary to show how the chocolate bar deviates from the standard for it in the FDR.
Where ground nuts have been added to chocolate, the common name of the chocolate is not required to include the name of the ground nut. In this case, ground nuts are considered flavouring material, and since the standards for chocolate products in the FDR provide for the addition of flavouring material, no modification of the common name is required. However, an allergen declaration is required in this case. Refer to the Food Allergens, Gluten and Added Sulphites section for more information.
In general, for chocolate products, flavouring material is anything that is completely ground, such as hazelnut paste and peanut butter. Foods that are not considered flavouring material include butter or butter oil.
Modified common name for chocolate containing food additive sweeteners
The standards for chocolate, milk chocolate and sweet chocolate in the FDR require the combination of one or more of the listed cocoa products with a sweetening ingredient (and milk ingredient, in the case of milk chocolate). 'Sweetening ingredient' is defined in section B.04.001 of the FDR as meaning any one or any combination of sweetening agents, except for icing sugar. 'Sweetening agent' is defined in B.01.001 as 'includes any food for which a standard is provided in Division 18, but does not include those food additives listed in the lists of permitted food additives. This definition is interpreted to mean that a sweetening agent is not limited to those listed in Division 18 (for example, maple syrup and glucose-fructose are sweetening agents that may be used as sweetening ingredients in chocolate). Concentrated fruit juices are not sweetening agents because they are not traditionally recognized as such, and neither is inulin. Unstandardized sugars such as dried cane sugar are considered sweetening ingredients. However, food additives are specifically excluded from being permitted sweetening ingredients in chocolate.
Chocolate-style confectionery products made with food additive sweeteners are unstandardized foods. These foods must use a modified standardized common name or another accurate description as the common name. For example, acceptable modified standardized common names for a milk chocolate product that is sweetened with maltitol would include "Milk Chocolate Sweetened with Maltitol" and "No Sugar Added Milk Chocolate", assuming the product meets the criteria for a "no sugar added" nutrient content claim. Note that for chocolatey confectionery products that contain aspartame, sucralose, neotame and/or acesulfame-potassium, additional labelling is required – see Sweeteners for more information.
White chocolate made without cocoa
"White Chocolate Made Without Cocoa" is an acceptable common name for a product meeting the chocolate standard except for the absence of cocoa solids.
Dark chocolate with acai berries and blueberries
No objection is taken to the use of the common name "Dark Chocolate with Acai and Blueberries" to describe dark chocolate that contains acai berries and blueberries in powder form only (not whole berries). Refer to the section on "true, real, genuine" claims for more information on making such claims when the named ingredient is present in any form.
Dark milk chocolate
No objection is taken to the use of "Dark Milk Chocolate" as a common name when used to describe milk chocolate with added cocoa. "Dark milk chocolate" in this case describes what the food actually is, i.e. "Milk chocolate" is the standardized chocolate product and "Dark" is the colour description that indicates how it differs from the standard, as opposed to plain "Dark chocolate".
"Chocolate" as part of the common name
In general, the unqualified term "chocolate" may only be used when referring to food meeting the chocolate standard or as a flavour designation when the chocolate portion is not likely to be mistaken for real chocolate (e.g. chocolate pudding, chocolate cake).
Chocolate vs cocoa
Chocolate and cocoa are different products, with chocolate having considerably higher cocoa butter content than cocoa. It should not be implied that products containing cocoa contain chocolate.
Examples of foods that are expected to comply with the chocolate standard when "chocolate" is used as part of the common name include confectionary products and "filled" chocolate products (as in "Chocolate Filled Cookies"). Likewise, a garnish that is referred to as "chocolate shavings" must be real chocolate. In these examples, the foods referred to as chocolate have the texture and appearance of chocolate so are expected to contain ingredients that comply with the chocolate standard.
The term chocolate may also be used as a flavour designation when cocoa or chocolate flavour is present and the chocolate portion is not likely to be mistaken for real chocolate due to different texture and other characteristics. Examples include "Chocolate Pudding", "Chocolate Cake (Mix)", "Chocolate Icing (Frosting)" and "Chocolate Cookies". If the name is more specific, such as "Milk Chocolate Pudding", then the product would be expected to contain real milk chocolate.
Chocolate coating vs compound coatings
When something is referred to as a chocolate coating, it is expected to comply with the chocolate standard. Compound coatings, which are products having the appearance but not the composition of chocolate, are often used as an outside layer or coating for biscuits, candy and frozen confections or as chips within baked goods. There should be no indication that compound coatings are "chocolate". However, "chocolate flavoured", "chocolate-like" and "chocolaty" have been accepted as appropriate descriptions of such coatings and chips.
Chocolate candy and bars
Only a solid chocolate candy, bar, or other completely chocolate product can be labelled "Chocolate Candy" or "Chocolate Bar". Candies and candy bars coated with chocolate or milk chocolate should not be called "chocolate candies" or "chocolate bars", but can be named "chocolate coated candies" or "chocolate coated bars", as applicable.
Common name for boxed confections
A box that contains only one type of chocolate product
A box containing only one type of chocolate product which meets the chocolate standard can use a common name such as "chocolate" or "chocolate buds", etc. If the box only contains a specific type of chocolate (e.g. milk chocolate), a common name that describes the specific type of chocolate present, such as "milk chocolates" would be acceptable, but "chocolates" could not be used. Similarly, if the contents contain only one type of confection that meets the standard for chocolate except that it contains added maltitol, then "no sugar added chocolates sweetened with maltitol" can be used as the common name.
A box that contains more than one type of chocolate
"Chocolates" or "Assorted chocolates" are considered acceptable common names for the boxed confections described in the following scenarios:
- A box containing an assortment of chocolate products, all of which meet one of the various chocolate standards in Division 4 of the FDR, e.g., a mixture of dark chocolate and milk chocolate; and
- A box of only filled chocolates (confections with real chocolate coatings).
A box that contains chocolate and confections
When a box contains an assortment of products, some of which meet one of the various chocolate standards in Division 4 of the FDR and others do not, an unstandardized common name such as "confections" may be used.
Alternatively, a common name that accurately reflects the nature of the products contained in the box (whether chocolates make up a majority, minority or equal parts of the box) can be used. For example, "chocolates and confections" is considered as an acceptable common name where chocolates make up a majority, and "confections and milk chocolates" can be used as the common name when a few milk chocolates are present in package containing a majority of confectionary products that do not meet the various chocolate standards.
"Semi-sweet", "bitter-sweet", "sweetened", "sweet"
The prohibition against claims that characterize the nutrient or energy level in a food in B.01.502 of the FDR does not apply to representations (such as prescribed common names) that are provided for in the FDR. As such, common names such as "semi-sweet chocolate", "bitter-sweet chocolate", "sweet chocolate" and "unsweetened chocolate" are permitted and no conditions or additional nutrition labelling requirements apply.
"Belgian Chocolate" is a claim or statement implying that the chocolate was produced in Belgium by mixing Belgian chocolate liquor with sweetening agents and other ingredients permitted by the chocolate standard. "Belgian chocolate liquor" refers to a particular type of Belgian manufacturing process involving the intensive crushing of selected cocoa beans to produce a soft cocoa mass (chocolate liquor) having a fine texture and a pale colour. A sweetener is added to this liquor to produce the characteristic Belgian (sweet) chocolate.
Any chocolate made outside of Belgium by mixing Belgian chocolate liquor with sweetening agents and other ingredients permitted by the chocolate standard should not be referred to as 'Belgian chocolate’. The addition of ingredients elsewhere affects the origin of the final product. However, this chocolate may be referred to as: 'Belgian style chocolate', 'Belgian type chocolate'; Chocolate made in (naming the country) using the Belgian process'; or contains Belgian unsweetened chocolate', 'contains Belgian bitter chocolate', 'contains Belgian chocolate liquor', etc.
"Chocolate" and "chocolate liquor" are not synonymous; the former must be sweetened and meet the standard found in Section B.04.006, FDR and the latter must comply with the standard found under Section B.04.004, FDR.
Cocoa vs cacao
In English, the term "cacao" may be used on labels to refer to cocoa solids, except in the list of ingredients and common name, where the name in bold face type, "cocoa" or "cocoa powder", must be used.
Although the term "cacao" was removed from the Canadian regulations, it is acceptable to be used interchangeably with the term "cocoa" on other parts of a label. With respect to claims, a percent statement such as X% Cacao is permitted provided that the claim is factual. This is a common declaration seen on dark chocolate products.
In Canada, "goober" is not an acceptable common name to replace the name "peanut". While the term "goober" is commonly used and understood in the southern United States, this is not the case in Canada. No objection is taken to the supplemental term "goober" as additional information provided that an acceptable common name is present.
For information on allergen labelling of peanuts, please see the list of ingredients and allergens page.
In the absence of medicinal or therapeutic claims, there is no objection to the use of "lozenge" as a common name.
The common name "potato crisps" is an acceptable alternative common name for "potato chips" on Canadian labels. In French, the terms "croustilles" and "chips" are both acceptable.
Salt and vinegar flavoured chips
Potato chips flavoured with acetic acid rather than vinegar must not be described as "salt and vinegar". They may be described as "salt and vinegar flavoured potato chips", "salt and simulated vinegar potato chips", "salt and imitation vinegar potato chips" or "salt and artificial vinegar potato chips". In the list of ingredients, the ingredient name "acetic acid" should be used, not "simulated vinegar flavour".
No objection is taken to a common name such as "Trail Mix", "Harvest Blend", etc. It is not necessary to include additional words or descriptions, such as "snack", or a partial list of ingredients. These common names are considered to be the names by which these foods are generally known. The specific content of these mixes can be determined from the list of ingredients.
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