Showing the Right Stuff: Adhering to Product Label Rules

by Craig Anthony

2 min read

If you’re a product seller, attractive and informative product labelling is integral to engaging your customers and generating profits. The government of Canada has a number of rules in place that dictate what information needs to be included on product labels, and the format of that information. Before you sell your first item, you want to familiarize yourself with these label requirements to ensure your products are not only eye-catching for consumers but offer necessary information in an accessible format.

General Labelling Practices

According to the Government of Canada Competition Bureau, a label can be any mark or sign on a prepackaged product, including tags, stamps, and stickers. The Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act states that all labels must include the identity of the product, the quantity of the product contained within the package, and the name and principal location of your business. Products sold in Canada are required to include this information in both English and French. The product identity is not the commercial name of the product, but rather the product’s generic name or function. If your company is selling a dish-washing detergent with the commercial name “Lemon Fresh,” you are required to include the term “dish-washing detergent” somewhere on your product’s label. The units used to describe the quantity of a product vary depending on the nature of the product. Liquids should be labelled by volume in metric, while solids should be labelled by weight. Multiples of the same item in one package are labelled by count.

Food-Specific Labelling Practices

Some types of products require more information on their labels than the three standards outlined above. Food products must be very clearly labelled with information including storage instructions, a list of ingredients, nutrition facts, and declarations of any food additives. The Food Labelling for Industry page on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website provides a list of food-specific labelling practices. Different categories of food often have slightly different labelling standards. The labelling standards for alcohol are different than the labelling standards for infant formula. Some foods require label information that is highly specific to that type of food. For example, milk fat percentage is required on dairy product labels, but it wouldn’t make sense to include a milk fat percentage on a seafood label. Statements about the quality and nutritional content of food products are also regulated. You want to always make certain your food product labels are truthful and inclusive.

Avoiding Misinformation

Your labels should not only disclose all necessary information to the consumer but also be clear and leave no room for misinterpretation. Ensure all descriptions and images of the product contained in the package are accurate. If you’re selling wine glasses in packages of two, but an image on the package depicts a place setting with four glasses, this could be considered misleading. In this case, you want to clearly label the package contents as two glasses, and change the image to an image that more accurately reflects the contents. In severe cases, failure to comply with Canadian product labeling laws can lead to your products being recalled or taken off the shelf, not to mention potential consumer lawsuits against your company. Learn the packaging laws relevant to your business, and design your products with clear, informative labels to keep everything running smoothly for you and your customers.

References & Resources

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