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Food products that require a label
Labelling requirements

General

Most prepackaged (definition) foods sold in Canada require that a label (definition) be applied or attached to it [B.01.003, FDR; 214, 217, SFCR]. Additionally, certain non-prepackaged foods require a label when sold in Canada.

Only once a label is required do other labelling requirements apply, such as a list of ingredients or common name. For more information on food labelling requirements, visit the Industry Labelling Tool.

Please note some foods may require a label for traceability purposes; traceability-specific labelling requirements should be consulted for additional details.

Exemptions

Exemptions from the requirement to carry a label

The Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) and the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) provide for exemptions to the requirement to carry a label for the following prepackaged foods:

  • One-bite confections that are sold individually [B.01.003(1)(a)(i), FDR; 213(a), SFCR].
    • When more than one individual one-bite confection are sold together in the same package, the product sold is not considered to be a one-bite confection. Additionally, lollipops are not considered to be one-bite confections regardless of size, as the stick allows for the lollipop to be eaten in several bites.
  • Fresh fruits or fresh vegetables packaged in a wrapper, or confining band, of less than 13 mm (1/2 inch) in width [B.01.003(1)(a)(ii), FDR; 213(b), SFCR];
    • Examples of fresh fruits or vegetables that are packaged in a wrapper or confining band of less than 13 mm (1/2 inch) in width are fresh broccoli, asparagus or rhubarb, held together by twist ties or rubber bands.
  • Fresh fruits or vegetables that are packaged in a protective wrapper, or a protective bag, that is transparent and on which no information is shown other than a price, bar code, number code, environmental statement or product treatment symbol [213(c), SFCR].
    • Examples of fresh fruits or vegetables that are typically found in such protective wrappers or bags include an English cucumber, a head of lettuce or cauliflower, a bunch of grapes, etc.

Exemptions from the Safe Food for Canadians Act and Regulations

General

A food that is not compliant with the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) and Regulations (SFCR) may be imported or interprovincially traded under certain conditions, and with some exceptions. For information, refer to the Exceptions and non-applications section of the guidance on Regulatory requirement: Trade [18, SFCR].

In addition, the SFCR provides for general exemptions from all requirements of the SFCA and SFCR for certain foods under specific circumstances and conditions, such as foods for personal use or foods carried on a ship, aircraft or train for the crew or passengers.  These general exemptions also apply to labelling requirements. Further details are also available in the Exceptions and non-applications section of the guidance on Regulatory requirement: Trade [19, 20(1), 21-23, SFCR].

Exported foods

Foods manufactured for export are not subject to the requirements of the Food and Drugs Act (FDA).

In general, foods that are exported must meet the SFCR requirements as well as foreign country requirements, subject to certain exemptions. For information on these exemptions, refer to the General requirements – Export section of the guidance on Regulatory requirement: Trade.

Exemptions from specific labelling requirements under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations for certain consumer prepackaged foods

Certain consumer prepackaged (definition) foods are exempt from specific labelling provisions under the SFCR. These consumer prepackaged foods are those that are [299, SFCR]:

  • manufactured, prepared, produced, packaged or labelled for use by commercial or industrial enterprises or institutions without being sold by them;
  • manufactured, prepared, produced, packaged or labelled only for sale to or by a duty free shop; or
  • distributed to one or more persons for no consideration (such as free samples distributed without exchange of money or other compensation).

Please note the above foods are however subject to labelling requirements under the Food and Drug Act (FDA) and Regulations (FDR).

The SFCR labelling requirements that do not apply to the above consumer prepackaged foods are:

SFCR provision Topic
200, 216, 221, 229(1)(a), 230-241 Various provisions dealing with net quantity  
222 Place of manufacture of label or container
223 Food wholly manufactured, processed or produced in a foreign state
224, 229(1)(b) Statement that a flavouring ingredient is imitation, artificial or simulated, and its type size requirement
228 Display card

As well, for the specific uses and circumstances listed above, consumer prepackaged peanut butter, wine, glucose syrup and refined sugar syrup are exempt from standard container size requirements [188(1), SFCR].

If a food is exempt from a labelling requirement of SFCR but is nonetheless labelled with that information, it must be labelled in the same manner as though it was required [203, SFCR].

More information on exemptions from specific labelling requirements is available on the Industry Labelling Tool.

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