Food Products that Require a Label
Information on the Definitions of "Sell"

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Both the FDA and CPLA define "sell (definition)". The FDA specifies that to sell includes "distribute, whether or not the distribution is made for consideration". This means that under the FDA a sale is considered to have taken place whether or not money (or other compensation) is exchanged. Therefore, free samples of food distributed door-to-door through the mail or by other means are subject to the labelling requirements of the FDA for foods sold in Canada, such as for common name, a nutrition facts table, and a list of ingredients. "Distribute" also includes the distribution of prepackaged foods in a hospital to patients or on an airline to passengers.

The CPLA definition of "sell" does not include "distribute". This means that information required under the CPLA (e.g. a net quantity declaration) is not required on foods that are distributed but not sold, such as free samples.

Most labelling requirements apply to products when "sold" by a regulated party. This may include when a manufacturer or importer distributes a shipment of product to a store, when a retailer packages a food from bulk and offers it for sale to consumers, when a product is re-sold, or various other situations. All sellers have a responsibility for compliance with requirements, at the various levels of trade.

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