General Principles for Labelling and Advertising

This page is part of the Guidance Document Repository (GDR).

Looking for related documents?
Search for related documents in the Guidance Document Repository

It is the responsibility of regulated parties to comply with the Food and Drugs Act (FDA) and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act (CPLA). Among other purposes, these Acts are intended to enable consumers to make informed food choices based on information that is truthful and not misleading.

Two broad prohibitions apply to all information provided in food labelling or advertising:

Subsection 5(1) of the Food and Drugs Act states:

No person shall label, package, treat, process, sell or advertise any food in a manner that is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to create an erroneous impression regarding its character, value, quantity, composition, merit or safety.

Subsection 7(1) of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act states:

No dealer shall apply to any prepackaged product or sell, import into Canada or advertise any prepackaged product that has applied to it a label containing any false or misleading representation that relates to or may reasonably be regarded as relating to that product.

Subsection 7(2) of the CPLA defines what is included in the expression "false and misleading representation". Included in the definition is for example, any representation in which expressions, words, figures, depictions or symbols are used that may likely deceive a consumer with respect to the net quantity of a prepackaged product, any representation that implies or may reasonably be regarded as implying that an ingredient is present when it is not, and any representation that would likely deceive a consumer with respect to the type, quality, performance, function, origin or method of manufacture or production of a prepackaged product.

These prohibitions apply to information that must be included on food labels in accordance to legislative and regulatory requirements, as well as representations communicated on a voluntary basis on either the food label or in advertising.

An official version of the applicable legislation can be found at Acts and Regulations.

Date modified: