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List of ingredients and allergens on food labels
Legibility and location

Subsection B.01.008.1(1) of the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) governs the font type, height, width, and colour requirements for the following information in the list of ingredients:

In addition to this page, detailed examples of the legibility requirements are presented in the Compendium of Templates for Nutrition Facts Tables and List of Ingredients, which is available for order on the Health Canada website.

Location

The list of ingredients may appear on any panel of the prepackaged product except for the bottom panel [B.01.005, B.01.008(1), FDR]. Only under very specific circumstances is the list of ingredients permitted on the bottom panel, for example, ornamental containers (see Location requirements). All information in the list of ingredients, including contains statements and cross-contamination statements, must be shown on the same continuous surface [B.01.010.3(1)(a.2), B.01.010.4(1)(a), FDR].

A contains statement, if applied, must appear after the ingredient list [B.01.010.3(1)(a.1), FDR]. A cross-contamination statement must appear after the contains statement or, if there is none, after the ingredient list [B.01.010.4(1)(a), FDR]. These statements, if made, must be grouped together with the ingredient list of the same language version without any intervening printed, written or graphic material [B.01.010.3(1)(a)(iii), B.01.010.3(1)(a.1), B.01.010.4(1)(a)-(b), FDR]. The ingredient list or a statement in the other official language is considered intervening material.

In certain cases, such as a single-ingredient product where no ingredient list is shown, the English and French versions of a contains statement, if applicable, must begin on a separate line. Small packages with an available display surface (ADS) of less than 100 cm2 are exempt from this requirement, and the second language version of the statement may start after the end of the first language statement [B.01.010.3(3), FDR].

For example:

Consider a package of sesame seeds, a single ingredient product where the common name serves as the list of ingredients. The contains statement must be shown as:

Picture - List of ingredients, separate line. Description follows.
Description for photo - List of ingredients, separate line

The English title "Contains" and the English allergen list appear on the first line. The French title "Contient" and the French allergen list appear below the English on a separate line.

Or, if the package meets the small package exemption the statement may be shown as:

Picture - list of ingredients, same line. Description follows.
Description for photo - List of ingredients, same line

The English title "Contains" and the English allergen list is immediately followed by the French title "Contient" and the French allergen list on the same line.

Font

Type

Information appearing in the list of ingredients, in the contains statement and in the cross-contamination statement must be in a single standard "sans serif" font that is non-decorative and the characters never touch each other or any other differentiating feature (for example, border around the list of ingredients) [B.01.008.1(1)(b), FDR]. Examples of "sans serif" fonts include Arial and Helvetica.

Ingredients and components must be listed in regular font type as set out in B.01.008.1(1)(d) of the FDR. No bolding, italics, or underline is permitted except for titles which must be in bold type, and each entry in the contains statement which may appear in a single regular or bold type [B.01.010.3(1)(c), FDR].

For example:

An acceptable manner of declaring the list of ingredients is as follows:
Ingredients: Flour (wheat) • Water • Vegetable oil margarine (milk) • Sugar • Yeast • Canola oil shortening • Potato starch • Garlic • Salt • Parsley • Seasoning (sesame) • Diacetyl acid esters of mono & diglycerides • Whey powder • Calcium propionate

An unacceptable manner of declaring the list of ingredients is shown below, as the title is underlined and the allergens are shown in bold.

Ingredients: Flour (wheat) • Water • Vegetable oil margarine (milk) • Sugar • Yeast • Canola oil shortening • Potato starch • Garlic • Salt • Parsley • Seasoning (sesame) • Diacetyl acid esters of mono & diglycerides • Whey powder • Calcium propionate

Type height and leading

The font type for the list of ingredients, the contains statement and the cross-contamination statement must be of the same height (except in the case of titles, which may use a greater type height) and be a minimum of 1.1 mm [B.01.008.1(1)(e), FDR]. A type height of 1.1 mm is equivalent to 6 points type in sans serif font and refers to the height of the lower case letter "x" [B.01.008.1(6), FDR]. Each character must also use identical leading (definition) of at least 2.5 mm [B.01.008.1(1)(e), FDR].

If a Nutrition Facts table appears on the label and the nutrients are shown in a type size of at least 8 points, the information appearing in the list of ingredients, in the contains statement and in the cross-contamination statement must be shown in a type height of at least 1.4 mm (8 points equivalency) with identical leading of at least 3.2 mm [B.01.008.1(3), FDR].

Width

The font type must appear in a normal or condensed width that is not scaled down so that the characters take up less space horizontally [B.01.008.1(1)(c), FDR].

If a Nutrition Facts table also appears on the label, the type width for information appearing in the list of ingredients, in the contains statement and in the cross-contamination statement must be the same as that required to show the nutrients that appear in the Nutrition Facts table [B.01.008.1(1)(c), FDR]. For more information, refer to Nutrition labelling - Presentation of the Nutrition Facts table.

Titles

The titles that introduce the list of ingredients and contains statement must be shown in bold type and without any intervening written, printed or graphic material before the information they introduce. The titles must be declared as "Ingredients:" or "Ingredients" and "Contains:" or "Contains", respectively [B.01.008.2(1)(a) to (c), B.01.010.3(1)(a)(i) to (iii), FDR]. Italics and underlining is not permitted.

Health Canada and the CFIA encourage food manufacturers and importers to use the title "May contain:" or "May contain" to introduce the cross-contamination statement on food labels. If a title is used, it must appear in bold when the statement appears on the same line as the ingredient list or the "food allergen source, gluten and added sulphites" statement [B.01.010.4(1)(d), FDR].

When the cross-contamination statement appears on the same line as the ingredient list or the "food allergen source, gluten and added sulphites" statement and is not introduced by a title, the statement must be in bold [B.01.010.4(1)(c), FDR].

Bolding is optional when the cross-contamination statement appears on a separate line (see examples below).

For example:

In the list of ingredients below, each title appears on a separate line and therefore the title "May contain:" is not required to appear in bold.

Ingredients: Enriched flour • Buttermilk (cultured milk, salt, sodium citrate) • Butter • Cane sugar • Lemon zest • Sea salt • Sodium bicarbonate.
Contains: Wheat • Milk.
May contain: Brazil nuts

In the example below, the cross-contamination statement appears on the same line as the "food allergen source, gluten and added sulphites" statement. Therefore, the title "May contain:" must appear in bold.

Ingredients: Enriched flour • Buttermilk (cultured milk, salt, sodium citrate) • Butter • Cane sugar • Lemon zest • Sea salt • Sodium bicarbonate.
Contains: Wheat • Milk. May contain: Brazil nuts

Titles may be shown in a type height that is greater than the type height used to show each entry in the ingredients list, contains statement and cross-contamination statement [B.01.008.1(4), FDR]. When more than one title appears on a label, each title must be shown in the same type height [B.01.008.1(5), FDR]. For example, the titles "Ingredients:" and "Contains:" may both appear in a type height of 1.4 mm and each listed entry in a type height of 1.1 mm.

Subheadings

Subheadings are allowed to appear following the "Ingredients" title however, bolding of subheadings is not permitted.

For example:

Ingredients:
Coating: Sugar • Palm oil • Milk ingredients • Soy lecithin • Salt • Flavour
Pretzel: Flour • Sugars (sugar, corn syrup, malted barley extract) • Salt • Sodium bicarbonate
Topping: Sugars (sugar, tapioca syrup) • Chocolate chips (unsweetened chocolate, sugar, dextrose, soy lecithin, artificial flavour) • Allura red • Flavour • Shellac
Contains: Milk • Soy • Wheat • Barley

In the above example "Coating:", "Pretzel:" and "Topping:" appear as subheadings following the "Ingredients" title. Note: Subheadings must still appear in descending order of their proportion in the final product.

Cases and separators

In the ingredients list, contains statement and cross-contamination statement, each entry must appear in lower case letters while the first letter of each entry must be shown in upper case letters [B.01.008.2(3)(b)(i), FDR].

However, the following information must always be shown in upper case letters [B.01.008.2(5)(c), B.01.008.2(5)(d), FDR]:

  • the name of a food additive written partially or entirely in its acronym form (for example, Calcium disodium EDTA, BHA and BHT) [B.01.008.2(5)(c)(i), FDR], and
  • the alpha-descriptor that is part of the common name of a food additive, vitamin and micro-organism (for example, Chymosin A, Vitamin B3 and D-calcium pantothenate) [B.01.008.2(5)(c)(ii), FDR]

Proper nouns such as the geographic origin used to describe an ingredient or a component of an ingredient may be shown with the first letter in upper case. For example: Alaskan pollock.

Ingredients must be separated by either a bullet point or comma [B.01.008.2(3)(c), B.01.010.3(1)(c), FDR]. There is no prohibition against or requirement for the use of a period at the end of the ingredients list or statements and may be used at the discretion of the manufacturer.

Sugars-based ingredients must be shown in lower case letters only and be separated by a comma [B.01.008.3(3)(a) and B.01.008.3(3)(b)(ii), FDR].

Components must be separated by a comma and be shown in lowercase letters only, except for in the instances where information is required to be in upper case.

For example:

Both lists of ingredients below demonstrate proper use of upper and lower case lettering, and acceptable ways of separating ingredients.

Ingredients: Enriched flour, Buttermilk (cultured milk, salt, sodium citrate), Butter, Sugars (dextrose, cane sugar), Lemon zest, Sea salt, Sodium bicarbonate.
Contains: Wheat • Milk.

Or,

Ingredients: Enriched flour • Buttermilk (cultured milk, salt, sodium citrate) • Butter • Sugars (dextrose, cane sugar) • Lemon zest • Sea salt • Sodium bicarbonate.
Contains: Wheat • Milk.

Colours and borders

Information appearing in the list of ingredients, in the contains statement and in the cross-contamination statement must be shown in a single colour of type that is a visual equivalent of 100% solid black type (for example, black or dark type) and be on a white or neutral background that has a maximum 5% tint of colour [B.01.008.1(1)(a), FDR]. Foods for use in manufacturing other foods and Foods for use in commercial or industrial enterprise or institution are exempt from this background colour requirement [B.01.008.1(2)(a) to (b), FDR].

The ingredients list must be clearly differentiated on the label by using either or both of the following options [B.01.008.2(2), FDR]:

Option 1: Use one solid-line border around the ingredient list or, one or more solid lines appearing above, below or at the sides of the list. The solid line must be the same colour as that used for the font type (that is to say, black or dark colour) [B.01.008.2(2)(a), FDR].

For example:

A solid-line border around the list of ingredients:

A solid-line border around the list of ingredients

Or, an ingredient list with one solid line appearing above and one solid line appearing below the list:

an ingredient list with one solid line appearing above and one solid line appearing below the list

Option 2: Use a colour that creates a contrast between the background colour of the ingredient list and the background colour used on the adjacent area of the label [B.01.008.2(2)(b), FDR].

For example:

Placing the ingredient list on a white background when the adjacent area on label is gray would create contrast and clearly differentiate the ingredient list from the rest of the food label:

Picture - Use a colour that creates a contrast. Description follows.
Description for photo - Use a colour that creates a contrast

The panel of the package on which the ingredient list appears has a gray background colour. The ingredient list appears on a white background in contrast to the otherwise gray panel.

All information in the list of ingredients, including contains statement and cross-contamination statements, must be within the same border/lines and be against the same background colour [B.01.010.3(1)(a.2), B.01.010.4(1)(a), FDR].

An additional solid line may appear above a cross-contamination statement when the statement begins on a different line than the ingredient list or statement that immediately precedes it [B.01.010.4(1)(b), FDR].

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