Guidelines for Highlighted Ingredients and Flavours

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These guidelines are under review while marked as Archived Content. See Highlighted Ingredient Claims for the current policy.

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Purpose

The purpose of this document is to provide guidance to clarify existing requirements and policies on the use of highlighted ingredient or flavour claims on a label or advertisement to promote truthful and not misleading labelling. This will result in meaningful information for consumers and promote a level playing field for industry.

Legislation

The Guidelines for Highlighted Ingredients and Flavours (Guidelines) are to provide guidance with regards to the Food and Drugs Act (FDA), subsection 5.(1) and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act (CPLA), subsection 7(1) which prohibit the labelling of products in a manner which is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to create an erroneous impression. It does not take precedence over specific Canadian federal or provincial legislation. Depending on the situation, there could be other applicable legislation, such as section 34 of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations (CPLR) concerning pictorial representations of flavours on labels. When legislation mandates a specific common name or other highlighting information, the Guidelines for Highlighted Ingredients and Flavours are neither triggered nor may they be applied in place of the mandated name or information. Additionally, for non-standardized foods, applying the Guidelines does not guarantee the common name will adequately describe the product.

Definitions

Highlighted Ingredient: An ingredient, component, class of ingredients, or flavour in a food, which has its presence suggested or emphasized through the use of words, pictures or graphics.

The definition for "highlighted ingredient" applies to foods as defined by the FDA. It includes ingredients, components of ingredients and classes of ingredients viewed as valuable, beneficial or otherwise desirable for the common food purposes of satisfying hunger, thirst, taste or texture modification but, for the purposes of these guidelines, does not include herbs/spices and seasoning ingredients such as leeks, onion, garlic, hot peppers, etc. (when added for seasoning), nutrients, phytochemicals (whether added or naturally occurring) or products regulated as natural health products.

Similar Ingredient: A non-highlighted ingredient, component or group of ingredients present in a food that belongs to the same class or has some of the same characteristics as the highlighted ingredient. It is added for the same purpose or to fulfill at least one of the primary functions of the highlighted ingredient such that a similar ingredient can generally replace the highlighted ingredient to form the same food (Also see section 5 of Annex 1 on Other Functions and Incidental Additions).

The following are examples of ingredients that could be considered similar ingredients when an ingredient has been highlighted: (Note: the list is not exhaustive).
Highlighted Ingredient Examples of Ingredients that could be considered Similar Ingredients
Peaches, such as dried, frozen, pureed, etc. Other fruits such as fresh strawberries, frozen cherries, dried apples, pear puree, apple pieces, etc.
Berries Other non-berry fruits
Blueberry juice Other reconstituted or concentrated juices, purees, water/sugar/blueberry flavour preparations, etc.
Beef Pork, chicken, extended meats, simulated meats
Rolled oats Cereals and cereal type products such as buckwheat, rice flour, wheat flour, corn, soy
Whole grains Non-whole grain such as bran, flour, starch or maltodextrin (except when present at low levels for functional reasons, see section 5 of Annex 1 for more information).
Ancient grains (Kamut, Quinoa) Whole wheat flour, white flour, other grains
Brown Sugar Sweetening agents such as sugar, honey, glucose syrup, maple syrup, sucralose, and other food additive sweeteners, brown sugar flavour. (See section 6 of Annex 1 for special considerations on honey and maple)
Butter Margarine, vegetable oil, lard, shortening, ghee, etc.
Mozzarella cheese Cheddar and other varietal cheeses, cheese-like dairy products, vegetable-based loaves, fortified vegetable-based loaves, cheese powder.
Chocolate Cocoa, carob, etc. (See section 6 of Annex 1 for more information on chocolate)

Imitation Ingredient: A subset of similar ingredients; these foods are specifically manufactured to have the same physical appearance as the highlighted ingredient. Note that for liquids, colour on its own does not constitute an imitation ingredient (e.g. When mango juice has been highlighted on a juice, an added orange juice is considered a similar ingredient, not an imitation).

The following are examples of ingredients that could be considered not only similar ingredients, but also imitation ingredients when the real ingredient is highlighted on a vignette or in a statement (Note: the list is not exhaustive).
Highlighted Ingredient Examples of Ingredients that could be considered Imitation Ingredients
Peach pieces Composite product (consisting of sugar, flavour, starch and gelling agents), peach colored (could be flavoured) fruit/vegetable bits (other than peach).
Chocolate chips Carob chips, compound chips, cocoa flavoured palm oil chips
Crab Kamaboko
Mozzarella cheese Any other white cheese that could be mistaken for mozzarella (White cheddar, etc.)
Beef Simulated or natural red meats that look like beef

Highlighting

It is common for labels and advertisings to include claims that highlight ingredients or flavours, such as "made with fruit" or "cherry flavoured ice cream". When truthful and not misleading, this is valuable information for consumers, allowing them to choose between products based on attributes of importance to them. However, when highlighting ingredients, care must be taken not to over-emphasize the importance, presence or absence of an ingredient or substance in a food because of its desirable or undesirable qualities, or for any other reason [Highlighted Ingredient Claims]. Areas of concern, which are addressed in these guidelines, include substitution, over-emphasis and misrepresentation of flavours.

Substitution
Substitution occurs when an imitation ingredient in present in a food to replace a genuine ingredient. Any name or description on the label must not lead consumers to conclude that the imitation or substitute is genuine [Negative claims pertaining to the absence or non-addition of a substance]. Examples of highlighting of this type are when an imitation ingredient is visible in the product at the time of sale and suggests the presence of the genuine ingredient.
Over-Emphasis
Over-emphasis occurs when a highlighted ingredient is either present at very low level or at least partially replaced by a similar ingredient in the food, giving an erroneous impression the highlighted ingredient is present in a higher amount than it really is. In principle, any emphasis regarding the presence of an ingredient, component or substance should be accompanied by a statement regarding the amount of that ingredient, component or substance present in the food [Highlighted Ingredient Claims].
Misrepresentation of flavours
Misrepresentation of flavours occurs when flavours or very small amounts of ingredients are added for the purpose of flavouring but representation (through claims or vignettes) creates an impression that either the actual ingredient was added (rather than a flavour) or there is more of the ingredient in the food than is actually the case (over-emphasis).

The following figure breaks down the different compositional conditions and provides guidance on how to present information on the attributes of the food to consumers without misleading on the composition, to promote compliance with the relevant sections of FDA and CPLA. It should be noted that other options can be used to clarify highlighting, such as declaring a percentage of the highlighted ingredient.

Image - Guidance on providing clarifying information when substitution, over-emphasis or misrepresentation of flavours occurs. Description follows.
Description for photo - Guidance on providing clarifying information when substitution, over-emphasis or misrepresentation of flavours occurs

When any amount of imitation ingredients are used, the common name of the imitation ingredient should be part of the claim or common name of the food.

When the combined weight of similar and highlighted ingredients represents the majority of the food and the highlighted ingredient is present in a higher amount than each similar ingredient, clarify with a clear indication on the label, through the vignette or text that similar ingredients are present.

When the combined weight of similar and highlighted ingredients represents the majority of the food and the highlighted ingredient is not present in higher amount than each similar ingredient, similar ingredients should be specifically identified by common name adjacent, as part of the claim or within the common name of the food.

When the combined weight of similar and highlighted ingredients represents less than the majority and the highlighted ingredient is present in a higher amount than all the similar ingredients combined, then, generally, no additional information is required.

When the combined weight of similar and highlighted ingredients represents less than the majority and the highlighted ingredient is not present in a higher amount than all the similar ingredients combined, clarify with a clear indication on the label, through the vignette or text, that similar ingredients are present.

When the highlighted ingredient is present at very low levels or as a flavour preparation, the word "flavoured" or equivalent should be displayed adjacent or within the highlighting.

Example of policy applications to the above principles are presented in Annex 2.

Presentation

Additional information such as percentage declarations, statements indicating the presence of similar ingredients or additions for the purpose of flavouring are considered prominently displayed when they are easily legible, in distinct contrast to other printed material and either in the common name of the food or adjacent to the highlighting such that a consumer would easily be able to see and relate them. With multiple highlighting of an ingredient (claim, vignette, and common name), additional information that is prominently displayed only needs to appear once, in close proximity to the most prominent highlighting.

A prominent and descriptive common name is often all that is required to clarify highlighting. Referenced ingredients, whether in the common name or a claim, should be stated in descending order of proportion by weight as is the case with the list of ingredients. In addition, all portions of any common name must be in a type height that is a minimum of one half the type height of the largest portion and no smaller than 1.6 mm based on the lower case "o" [15, CPLR].

For legibility and avoidance of misleading consumers, the general guidance for the type height of additional information is that it should at least meet the smallest of either:

  • One-half of the highlighted ingredient's claim or;
  • The minimum type height required for the numerical portion of the net quantity statement [14(2), CPLR].

In both cases, the absolute minimum is the minimum type height requirement of the Net Quantity found in the CPLR 14(2) of 1.6 mm (based on the lower case "o").

Highlighted Ingredients and Flavours Percentage Statements

A percentage statement is another option for providing information to consumers on the proportion of the highlighted ingredient in the food [Highlighted Ingredient Claims].

Note that in the case of mixed nuts, the percentage of the type of nut that is present in the product in the greatest amount must be declared on the label [B.01.071, FDR].

Percentage Calculation

Percentages of highlighted ingredients are based upon the weight of the ingredients before they are combined to make the food. This is consistent with subsection B.01.008(3) of the Food and Drug Regulations pertaining to the declaration of ingredients as a percentage of the prepackaged product before they are combined to form the prepackaged product.

Percentages are calculated by dividing the ingoing weight of the ingredient by the total weight of all the ingoing ingredients of the food and multiplying this amount by 100 (Note: When a class of ingredients is highlighted; the numerator is the total weight of all ingredients within the class of ingredients).

Example: 35 kg of single strength strawberry puree is present in a batch of muffin batter weighing 200 kg: (35 / 200) X 100 = 17% Strawberries

Exceptions and Specific Situations

  1. The weight of volatile ingredients or added water that is subsequently removed during processing is not included in the weight of the ingoing ingredients.

    Example: If 100 g of water is added as part of the ingoing ingredients and 80 g is subsequently removed as a result of processing, 20 g of water is considered to have been added as an ingredient.

  2. Subject to situation 1 above, when concentrated or dehydrated ingredients are reconstituted by the manufacturer at the same mixing bowl stage, the weight of either the reconstituted ingredient or the concentrated ingredient may be used to calculate the percentage but the list of ingredients must reflect the choice and declare the ingredient as reconstituted or as concentrated, consistent with the basis of the calculation.

    Example (a): In a one litre fruit beverage weighing 1000 g consisting, in part, of 100 g of concentrated cranberry juice (3/1) (three parts water are required to dilute one part concentrated juice) and 300 g (or more) water were added either prior to or at the mixing bowl, the percent calculations are as follows:

    • (100 g / 1000 g) X 100 = 10% Cranberry Juice concentrate; or
    • [(100 g + 300 g) / 1000 g] X 100 = 40% reconstituted Cranberry Juice

    Note that when water is added to reconstitute a concentrated ingredient at the same mixing bowl stage, and it is subsequently removed during processing (as per example 1 above) or when the theoretical reconstitution occurs at a later processing step, the option to make a percent declaration based upon the reconstituted ingredient is no longer available.

    Example (b): A 1000 g of product at the mixing bowl stage includes 100 g of concentrated cranberry juice (3/1) and 300 g of added water. The processing this product undergoes results in a moisture loss of 200 g. As the juice had not been reconstituted prior to addition to the mixing bowl, the lost moisture is considered to be added water that was subsequently removed and a claim with respect to "reconstituted juice" is not considered acceptable. A claim about the percent content of "concentrated cranberry juice" is calculated as follows:

    • Total product weight equals: 1000 g - 200 g (lost water) = 800 g
    • Concentrated cranberry juice weight equals:
      • 100 g concentrated cranberry juice + 100 g water (a partial reconstitution) = 200 g
      • 200 / 800 X 100 = 25% concentrated cranberry juice

    Note: For the above example, if the juice had actually been reconstituted prior to the mixing bowl stage, the percentage could be calculated based upon 400 g of reconstituted cranberry juice compared to the 1000 g total ingoing weight (40% reconstituted cranberry juice). In this case there is no added water, only reconstituted juice, and all moisture loss is from the ingredients.

  3. For products requiring preparation by the consumer, it is also acceptable to make a claim based upon the percentage of the highlighted ingredient in the food "as prepared". This claim may only be made when the percentage of the highlighted ingredient in the food "as sold" is also present and where there are directions for preparation.

    Example: A pudding mix requiring preparation with milk could make the claim "X% milk ingredients when prepared according to directions" (based upon the milk ingredient content of the food as prepared). However, this claim may only be made when the percentage of milk ingredients found in the mix (as sold) is also declared (e.g. "25% milk ingredients - 60% milk ingredients when prepared according to directions" on a mix consisting of 20 g of milk powder in 80 g of mix that is reconstituted with milk).

  4. When multi-component ingredients are used, percentage declarations are based upon the entire ingredient when the claim/clarification is made with respect to the ingredient as a whole. When the declaration is made with respect to the major component of an ingredient, the claim must be based upon the contribution of that component only, not the entire ingredient. Care must be exercised in cases where the ingredient name is the same as that of the major component.

    Example (a): The declaration of the percentage of raspberry jam in a jam pastry is based upon the jam; however, a claim for the raspberry content of the pastry would be based upon only the raspberry portion of the jam.

    Example (b): The declaration of the percentage of peas in a soup which includes canned peas is based upon the weight of the peas only. The weight of the other ingredients of the canned peas (such as water, sweeteners, preservatives, etc.) must not be included when calculating the percentage of the peas in the soup.

100% statements

For guidance on the use of the statement "100%", please refer to the Pure, 100% Pure, 100%, All. Specific guidance for fruit juices and the use of "100%" can be found in Annex 1 of these guidelines.

Declaration and Rounding

The amount declared shall be:

  1. a minimum percentage, where emphasis is on the high content of an ingredient; or
  2. a maximum percentage, where emphasis is on the minimal content of an ingredient; and
  3. rounded to the nearest:
    1. whole number for percentages from 1 - 99%;
    2. 1/10 of one percent for amounts greater than 99.5%;
    3. 1/10 of one percent or stated as "< 1%" for amounts less than 1%; or
    4. declared as "0" when none is present.
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