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Labelling requirements for dairy products
Common name: dairy products

The common name must be declared on the principal display panel of prepackaged food, including dairy products [218(1)(a), SFCR]. For more details, refer to common name.

Milk, unless otherwise designated, refers to cow's milk [B.08.003, FDR]. The standards for milk set out in sections B.08.003 to B.08.028 of the FDR do not apply to milk from any animal other than a cow [B.08.002.1, FDR]. Dairy products made with milk from an animal other than a cow must clearly indicate the animal source of the milk [B.08.028.1, FDR]. In the case of consumer prepackaged dairy products, this must be indicated on the principal display panel unless indicated in the common name [248(c), SFCR].

Common names for standardized dairy products are shown in bold-faced type in Division 8 of the FDR or in the Canadian Standards of Identity, Volume 1 – Dairy Products document which is incorporated by reference into the SFCR. As with all foods with a standard of identity, only those foods that meet all the provisions set out in the standard can use the prescribed common name [201, SFCR]. For dairy products that do not fall under a standard, the appropriate common name is the name by which the food is generally known.

Modified standardized common names for dairy products

A dairy product that deviates from a prescribed standard may not use the common name associated with that standard unless the standardized common name is modified to indicate how the food differs in every respect, from the food described by the standard. For more information, see modified standardized common names.

Example:

The standard for sour cream does not allow for added herbs, seasonings or spices. If chives are added to the sour cream the common name would need to be modified to clearly indicate to consumers how this product differs from the standard, for example, sour cream with chives.

Some cheeses/varieties are allowed to contain more than the maximum percentage of moisture and less than the minimum percentage of milk fat set out in the standard, provided the flavour and texture are maintained and the common name is modified with descriptive terminology that meets FDR requirements for claims and statements [30, Canadian Standards of Identity, Volume 1 – Dairy Products; B.08.033, FDR].

Common names for lactose-free dairy products

The food enzyme lactase is added to some dairy products to eliminate the presence of lactose. Some dairy product standards allow for the addition of lactase as a food additive, whereas others do not. See Health Canada's lists of permitted food enzymes for more information on permitted uses of lactase.

Dairy products with a standard that does not allow the addition of lactase

The addition of lactase to these products will cause the food to deviate from the standard. If this is done, the common name must reflect the deviation. For example, the standard for milk does not allow for the addition of lactase. Therefore, if lactase is added to milk, the common name must be modified to indicate how the milk does not meet the "milk" standard, such as "lactose-free milk".

Dairy products with a standard that allows the addition of lactase

The addition of lactase to these products is within the provisions of the standard. Therefore, in this case, the common name can either be the standardized common name, or additional information can be added to reflect the addition. For example, the standard for ice cream mixes allows for the addition of lactase to the milk used in ice cream mixes. Therefore, if lactase is added to the milk used for an ice cream mix, the final product can either be called "ice cream" or "lactose-free ice cream".

For more information on lactose-free claims, refer to negative claims pertaining to the absence or non-addition of a substance.

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