Nutrition Labelling Regulations for Foods Sold in Restaurants and Food Service Establishments

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Nutrition Labelling

Nutrition labelling is mandatory for most prepackaged foods sold in Canada. These foods must show a Nutrition Facts table (NFt) when sold to consumers. In general, most foods sold in restaurants and food service establishments are not considered to be prepackaged and are thus exempt from showing a NFt. As well, foods ordered for take-out and delivery are also generally considered to be exempt from showing a NFt. The following section outlines requirements for some prepackaged products.

Prepackaged Foods Requiring a Nutrition Facts Table
[B.01.401, FDR]

  • Prepackaged foods purchased from suppliers that are resold to consumers generally must also show a NFt. Examples include: cans of soda, cartons of milk, containers of yogourt, packages of breakfast cereal, granola bars, packages of cookies, and bags of chips, etc.
  • Specialty prepackaged foods sold by restaurants for customers to take home such as house barbecue sauces or salad dressings (unless prepared and packaged on site).

The nutrition labelling requirements for these products are further detailed in Nutrition Labelling.

Prepackaged Foods Exempt from a Nutrition Facts Table
[B.01.401(2)(c), FDR]

  • Prepackaged individual portions of food that are intended to be served by a restaurant or other commercial enterprise with meals or snacks. Examples include: packages of crackers, creamers, sugar packets, jam or jelly packages, butter and margarine packages, etc.

Voluntary Provision of Nutrition Information

Although there are no requirements to provide a NFt for most restaurant and food service foods, many establishments wish to provide this information on a voluntary basis. When companies show the nutrition information for these foods, companies are strongly encouraged to show the same information that is provided in the NFt, which includes: energy value in Calories, along with fat, saturated fat, trans fat,carbohydrate, fibre, sugars, protein, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, calcium and iron. The format requirements for prepackaged foods do not apply to restaurant foods, so an alternate way of presenting the information is acceptable, such as the use of a table or chart, tray liners, menu boards, posters, leaflets or brochures available to consumers. The "Nutrition Facts" heading is an acceptable title for showing this information.

When showing the amount of a nutrient, the regulations set out how these statements can be made, including which units can be used [B.01.301, FDR]. Nutrient values declared must be accurate and not false or misleading.

Note that when showing how much of a nutrient is present in a food, you must show how much of the nutrient is present per serving of stated size. In most cases for restaurant foods, this means the information must be shown per portion served to the consumer.

This table summarizes what units must be used when declarations are made in restaurants about the amount of a nutrient in a food.
NutrientsUnits to be Used
Energy Value Calories (Cal)
Vitamins referred to in subsection D.01.002(1) of the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) (i.e., vitamins A, D, E, K and C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, biotin and choline) Units specified in subsection D.01.003(1) of FDR (i.e., milligrams (mg), micrograms (µg) or µg dietary folate equivalents (DFE), as applicable) and/or % Daily Value Table Note 1
Sodium, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese and chloride Milligrams (mg) and/or % Daily Value Table Note 1
Iodide, selenium, chromium and molybdenum Micrograms (µg) and/or % Daily Value Table Note 1
Cholesterol milligrams (mg) and/or % Daily Value Table Note 1
All other nutrients grams (g) and/or % Daily Value Table Note 1 for fat, sum of saturates and trans, carbohydrate, fibre and sugars

Table Note

Table note 1

The % Daily Value for these nutrients is based on Daily Values set out in Health Canada's Table of Daily Values.

Return to table note 1  referrer

Nutrient Content Claims and Health Claims

When nutrient content claims, such as "low fat" or "source of fibre" or health claims are made for foods in restaurants and food service establishments that are not prepackaged, these trigger the mandatory declaration of the nutrient that is the subject of the claim. For detailed information, refer to Nutrient Content Claims and Foods Sold in Restaurants and Food Service Establishments.

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