It is common for manufacturers to "highlight"
ingredients or flavours in food using words, pictures, or graphics,
such as "made with real fruit" and/or a picture of
berries. However, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has
said that over-emphasizing the importance, presence, or absence of
an ingredient on packaging or advertising may mislead consumers and
run afoul of the Food and Drugs Act and the Consumer
Packaging and Labelling Act.
After almost 10 years of stakeholder consultations and drafting,
CFIA has confirmed that it will apply the rules set out in the Interim Guidelines for highlighting
ingredients, until it releases final guidelines.
The Interim Guidelines address the following scenarios:
an ingredient is substituted with an imitation (e.g., cocoa
flavoured palm oil chips for chocolate chips) but labeling suggests
the presence of the genuine ingredient
an ingredient is emphasized but similar ingredients are also
present (e.g., berries are emphasized and non-berry fruit are
present) but labeling suggests the genuine ingredient is present in
a greater quantity
a flavour or very small amount of an ingredient is added for
the purpose of flavouring but labeling suggests either the actual
ingredient, rather than flavouring, was added or the ingredient is
present in a greater quantity
The Interim Guidelines set out how to present information on the
attributes of food products without misleading about composition,
prominently displaying descriptive common names,
adding information such as percentage declarations of the
adding statements indicating the presence of similar
ingredients or additions for the purpose of flavouring, and
setting proportionate thresholds as guidance for fairly
representing highlighted ingredients.
Most significantly, when an imitation ingredient is used, the
imitation ingredient's common name must be part of the claim or
the food's common name.
The Interim Guidelines also include detailed instructions on
percentage calculation for ingredients, including calculating
percentages for concentrated or reconstituted ingredients, to
ensure consistency across the industry.
A recent Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench decision allowed a court-appointed receiver to sell and transfer intellectual property rights free and clear of encumbrances, finding that a license to use improvements of an invention was a contractual interest and not a property interest.
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