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Exemptions from the Nutrition Facts table

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Foods always exempt from carrying a Nutrition Facts table

The following prepackaged products are always exempt from displaying a Nutrition Facts table (NFt), and cannot lose their exemption [B.01.401(2)(c), FDR]. This applies if the product is:

1. A fresh vegetable or fruit or any combination of fresh vegetables or fruits without any added ingredients, an orange with added food colour or a fresh vegetable or fruit coated with mineral oil, paraffin wax, petrolatum or any other protective coating [B.01.401(2)(c)(i), FDR]

These include:

  • any combination of fresh vegetables or fruits, whether whole or cut-up ones, without any added ingredients (for example, salads without added croutons, bacon bits, salad dressing, et cetera)
  • fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, thyme, et cetera (but not dried herbs)
  • sprouts
  • oranges with added food colour, and
  • a fresh vegetable or fruit coated with paraffin wax or petrolatum (such as wax coating on apples)

2. A prepackaged individual portion of food that is solely intended to be served by a restaurant or other commercial enterprise with meals or snacks [B.01.401(2)(c)(ii), FDR]

Examples: individually portioned crackers served with soup or creamers served with a cup of coffee.

3. Milk, partly skimmed milk, skim milk, goat's milk, partly skimmed goat's milk, skimmed goat's milk, (naming the flavour) milk, (naming the flavour) partly skimmed milk, (naming the flavour) skim milk or cream sold in refillable glass container [B.01.401(2)(c)(iii), FDR]

In addition to the exemptions listed above, when the label of a prepackaged product has an available display surface (ADS) of less than 15 cm square (cm2), it is exempt from carrying a Nutrition Facts table [B.01.469, FDR]. Prepackaged foods with an ADS of less than 15 cm2 never lose this exemption. This exemption applies to one-bite confections (for example, small individually wrapped candies, mints), as well as multiple-serving prepackaged products with an ADS < 15 cm2, such as very small packages of gum containing two to four pieces of gum, rolls of hard candy, and small packages of mints.

Foods usually exempt from carrying a Nutrition Facts table

Some prepackaged products are usually exempt from carrying a Nutrition Facts table (NFt); in some cases, they may lose their exemption [B.01.401(2)(a) and (b), B.01.401 (3), FDR]. The product is usually exempt if it is:

1. a product for which all the information set out in column 1 of the table following section B.01.401 in the FDR, other than in respect of item 1 ("Serving of stated size"), may be expressed as "0" in the Nutrition Facts table [B.01.401(2)(a), FDR]

Examples: spices, vinegar and some bottled waters.

2. a beverage with an alcohol content of more than 0.5% [B.01.401(2)(b)(i), FDR]

Example: beer.

3. a raw single ingredient meat, meat by-product, poultry meat or poultry meat by-product [B.01.401(2)(b)(iii), FDR]

This applies to products in fresh and/or frozen form.

The exemption from the requirement for an NFt for raw single ingredient meats would continue to apply for single ingredient kosher meat and poultry that have been cleansed with salt. Under these circumstances, salt, used in the kosher process, is rinsed off the meat prior to sale and is typically present in such low residual levels that it would not be considered an ingredient.

If phosphates, spices or water are added to meat or poultry, or if the product has been cooked (for example, phosphated and spiced pork cuts), the exemption no longer applies, as these products are no longer raw, single ingredient products.

Some types of meat (ground meat, ground meat by-products, ground poultry meat or ground poultry meat by-products) always lose the exemption and are required to carry an NFt.

4. a raw, single ingredient marine or freshwater animal product [B.01.401(2)(b)(iv), FDR]

This applies to products in fresh and/or frozen form.

If nothing has been added to a product that has gone through a dehydration process, it would still be considered raw and would qualify for the exemption.

Examples: fish, crustaceans and combinations of raw, single ingredient marine or fresh water animal products (for example, a mixture of raw single ingredient shrimp and scallops).

Smoked fish is not a single-ingredient food since smoke must be declared and salt is added; therefore, it is not exempt from carrying an NFt.

5. sold only in the retail establishment where the product is prepared and processed from its ingredients, including from a pre-mix if an ingredient other than water is added to the pre-mix during the preparation and processing of the product [B.01.401(2)(b)(v), FDR]

The intent behind this exemption relates to the difficulties associated with achieving accurate nutrient values for foods prepared where there is limited standardization or measures of control. Prepackaged foods qualify as "sold only in the retail establishment where the product is prepared and processed", when they are:

  • prepared and processed in one retail establishment and only sold at that site, or
  • prepared and processed on premises (on or off-site) owned by the same person as the retail establishment where the food is sold, as long as these premises supply only that retail establishment. In this case the premises are considered part of the same retail establishment

Prepackaged food does not qualify for the exemption when it is prepared and processed at off-site premises that are owned by the same person who owns the retail establishment where the food is sold, but these premises supply more than one establishment or company, or sell the product directly to consumers.

Note: Products sold by a single retailer at more than one building on the same premises would be considered to be sold in a single retail establishment (for example, products prepared in a retail store and sold at both that store and in a gas bar at the same address that is owned by the same person would be exempt).

This exemption includes:

  • poultry or meat that is seasoned and roasted, barbequed or broiled at the same retail premises that it is sold. If the ingredients are added by the supplier and the food is simply roasted, barbequed or broiled at retail, then this exemption does not apply
  • single ingredient products that have undergone minimal transformation during preparation and processing at the retail establishment (for example, fresh squeezed orange juice or peanut butter made solely from peanuts)
  • products that are "completed" at the retail level, such as a pre-made fruit cake that is shipped from the manufacturer to various retailers which, in turn, add fruit and glaze at the store level and sell it to consumers. No nutrition information is mandatory on the cake when it is sold to the consumer, as it is considered to be prepared and processed at the retail establishment, but the cake leaving the manufacturer requires nutrition information (as required for all foods for use in manufacturing other foods)

A multi-serving product that is composed of different foods combined together by the retailer into one package (for example, a combination package of rice, egg roll and chow mein; assorted varieties of buns; party trays of cheese or of a variety of olives, sliced meats, nuts, etc.) will result in a final product that is considered to be "prepared and processed from its ingredients"; as such, an NFt is not required. However, if the foods packaged from bulk at retail are one variety of food (such as one variety of buns, the egg rolls alone, etc.), then the product is required to carry an NFt, unless it has an ADS of less than 200 cm² or consists of individual servings sold for immediate consumption.

6. sold only at a road-side stand, craft show, flea market, fair, farmers' market or sugar bush by the individual who prepared and processed the product [B.01.401(2)(b)(vi), FDR]

These products are exempt as they are typically produced by very small enterprises. The exemption does not extend to foods produced by enterprises other than the vendor, such as by medium and large-sized companies when they sell their products at these venues.

7. an individual serving that is sold for immediate consumption and that has not been subjected to a process to extend its durable life, including special packaging [B.01.401(2)(b)(vii), FDR]

This section exempts individual servings that need to be eaten with a short timeframe because their durable life is particularly short. A process to extend durable life includes some special packaging on prepackaged products such as modified atmosphere packaging (for example, sandwiches or ready-made salads sold from a vending machine or mobile canteen), or freezing.

The following are not considered to be processes to extend durable life:

  • foods sold for immediate consumption in packaging like saran or cellophane wrap
  • refrigeration
  • direct addition of a preservative

While the addition of a preservative, for example to a bakery product, would extend the durable life of the product, the packaging is most important in determining how long the shelf life will be. Even if the bakery product contains a preservative, the durable life of the product may only be a day or two if it is wrapped in cellophane, whereas it could be much longer in the case where it was contained in modified atmosphere packaging. Therefore, the reference to a "process" in this exemption refers to the packaging used and would not include the addition of a preservative.

This exemption applies to the product as a whole, not the individual foods within the product, so if the product is a lunch composed of a sandwich, fruit and carrot sticks, the entire product is exempt as long as it is an individual serving and for immediate consumption, and it has not been subjected to a process or special packaging to extend its durable life.

As long as the food is to be eaten shortly after purchase, the exemption will apply even if heating is required before consumption (for example, a fresh pasta dish that is refrigerated). However, as noted previously, this would not include the same product in frozen form.

8. sold only in the retail establishment where the product is packaged, if the product is labelled by means of a sticker and has an available display surface (ADS) of less than 200 cm² [B.01.401(2)(b)(viii), FDR]

This includes food produced off premises and packaged from bulk on the retail premises, such as small squares of cheese cut and wrapped at retail and small packages of candy, spices or soup mix packaged from bulk at retail.

Reasons for losing the exemption

Foods that are usually exempt from carrying a Nutrition Facts table are required to display one (that is to say, they lose the exemption) when [B.01.401(3), FDR]:

  • a vitamin or mineral nutrient is added to the product
  • a vitamin or mineral nutrient is declared as a component of an ingredient (other than flour)
  • the product is ground meat, ground meat by-product, ground poultry meat or ground poultry meat by-product, or
  • the label or advertisement, made or placed by or on the direction of the manufacturer, contains one or more of the following:
    • a reference to the energy value or a nutrient (including constituents of nutrients) set out in the first column of the tables Core nutrition information and Additional nutrition information. This does not include:
    • a function claim
    • a health claim
    • a health-related name, statement, logo, symbol, seal of approval or mark (including trademarks)
    • the phrase "nutrition facts", "valeur nutritive" or "valeurs nutritives", or
    • a representation about or implying nutritional or health related properties or nutrient content claims
      • gluten-free and other allergen-free claims are not considered to be nutritional or health-related properties on their own.