In Canada, labelling requirements for products are established by several government agencies, including the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Health Canada, and the Competition Bureau. If you’re planning to do business in Canada, particularly selling products, there are a number of regulations and label requirements that you need to follow. There are federal as well as provincial regulations. You can learn more about them in this guide.
*Please note that this guide is not a comprehensive guide and only offers basic information and important points to consider when entering the Canadian market. You should research the regulations for each area carefully.
Canada is primarily concerned with these pieces of information:
- Product identity/name
- Net quantity declaration
- List of ingredients and allergen labelling
- Dealer name and place of business
The specific requirements vary depending on the type of product, but some general guidelines for labelling include:
- Product Identity – The product must be clearly identified on the label, including its common name, brand name, and any other pertinent information.
- Net Quantity – The label must indicate the quantity or weight of the product contained in the package, in both metric and imperial units.
- Ingredients – The label must list all ingredients in the product, in order of their relative proportion by weight.
- Allergens – If the product contains any common food allergens (such as milk, eggs, peanuts, or wheat), this must be clearly indicated on the label.
- Nutrition Information – Certain products, such as packaged foods, must include nutrition information on the label, including the amount of calories, fat, protein, and other nutrients per serving.
- Health Claims – Any health or nutrition claims made on the label must be supported by scientific evidence and approved by Health Canada.
- Country of Origin – For imported products, the label must indicate the country of origin.
- Language – Bilingual Labelling – The label must be provided in both English and French for products sold in Canada.
- Safety Information – Certain products, such as chemicals or hazardous materials, must include safety information on the label.
These are some general requirements, and there may be additional regulations and requirements for specific products or industries. It’s important to consult with the relevant government agencies to ensure compliance with all labelling requirements.
Provincial Requirements & Regulations
The province of Quebec has additional labelling requirements for products sold in the province. The Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) enforces these requirements.
- Language – All product labelling and packaging must be in French, with the exception of certain recognised trademarks, brand names, and common terms.
- Display of French – The French text on the label must be at least as prominent as any other language used, and it must be legible and permanent.
- French-only labels – Certain products, such as books, magazines, and music recordings, may be exempt from the requirement for French labelling if they are imported from outside of Quebec.
- Translation – If a product label contains information in a language other than French, a French translation must also be provided on the label.
- Packaging – The labelling requirements also apply to packaging, including containers, bags, and boxes.
Certain products, such as prescription drugs, medical devices, and some agricultural products, may be exempt from certain labelling requirements.
Fines & Penalties
The OQLF has the authority to impose fines and other penalties for non-compliance with these labelling requirements. Therefore, businesses selling products in Quebec must ensure that their labelling complies with both national and provincial requirements.
In Ontario, federal regulations primarily govern product label requirements. The CFIA is responsible for enforcing these regulations. Some of the key elements typically required on product labels in Ontario include:
- Product Identity – The label must clearly state the name or description of the product. It should accurately represent the nature of the product.
- Bilingual Labelling – As Ontario follows federal guidelines, certain information must be in both French and English.
- Ingredient List – A complete and accurate list of all ingredients contained in the product must be provided. Ingredients should be listed in descending order of their proportion by weight.
- Allergen Information– Any ingredients known to cause allergies or sensitivities, such as peanuts, dairy, or gluten, must be clearly identified on the label. This information is crucial for consumers with specific dietary needs.
- Nutrition Facts – For most packaged foods, a nutrition facts table is required. It provides information about the nutrient content of the product, including calories, fat, protein, carbohydrates, and various vitamins and minerals.
- Net Quantity – The label must indicate the net quantity or weight of the product. It should be expressed in metric units (e.g., grams, milliliters) and must be easily visible.
- Country of Origin – The label should specify the country where the product was manufactured, produced, processed, or packaged.
- Date Markings – For perishable products, such as food and beverages, relevant date markings such as “Best Before” or “Expiry Date” should be displayed to inform consumers about product freshness and safety.
- Manufacturer/Importer Information – The label must provide the name and contact information of the manufacturer or importer responsible for the product.
- Health and Safety Warnings – The product label may require specific health and safety warnings depending on the type of product. For example, hazardous materials or products intended for adult use only may have specific warning labels.
The Other Canadian Provinces
The rest of the Canadian provinces and territories generally follow the federal labelling regulations. That said, it’s best to look into each province and territory for any specific requirements for your product.
Other Label Requirements
There are more specifics regarding the presentation and location of the labels. As such, there’s a section of the Government of Canada website that goes into detail about the various requirements. For example:
- Location – There are regulations regarding the location of each piece of info.
- Legibility – There’s no specific font required but the writing must be easily legible.
- Type Height – There are restrictions around the size of the type.
- Units of Measurement – There are specific guidelines on listing measurements.
- Exemptions – There are exceptions to these regulations.
Final Remarks on Product Labelling Requirements in Canada
Overall, the regulations and labelling requirements in Canada are mostly the same across each province. However, Quebec can be a bit more strict and specific as it has its own regulatory body governing the additional requirements. Either way, always consult the requirements for your specific product regarding the country in which you plan to do business.
Fortunately, we’re experts at print, and that includes product labels and packaging. In fact, we’re equipped for variable printing, different regional requirements, and other industry-specific regulations. We’ve helped pharmaceutical companies with their marketing collateral and product packaging, so we understand the complexities and nuances of the various sectors.
If you want more information or help with your product in the Canadian market, give us a call.