Labelling requirements for alcoholic beverages
Voluntary claims & statements – Alcoholic beverages
Use of the term "light"
"Light" may be used to describe the following alcoholic beverages which contain the alcohol levels indicated in the table below:
|Alcoholic beverage||Alcohol by volume|
|Cider||4% or less|
|Wine||9% or less|
|Whisky||25% or less|
In the case of the above alcoholic beverages, it is assumed that through long-established practice, most consumers understand "light" to be a reference to lower alcohol content. No further qualification of "light" is required on labels and in advertisements of these products provided that the declaration of the percentage of alcohol by volume appears prominently on the principal display panel of the label, and that "light" is not used to refer to some other aspect or characteristic of these products.
If "light" is used to describe a reduction in some constituent other than alcohol, then it must satisfy the conditions established by the regulations for nutrient content claims for light as a sensory characteristic or light as a reference to the reduction in fat or of energy [B.01.502, B.01.513, FDR]. In addition, any impression created by the use of a "light" claim must not be misleading as per subsection 5(1) of the FDA and subsection 6(1) of the SFCA.
For beer, section B.02.132 of the FDR requires the use of specific terms, such as "extra light" and "light", based on the alcohol content. See Common name for beer for more information on the use of the term "light" in reference to these products.
"Low alcohol" is an acceptable claim for a product with less than 1.1% alcohol by volume. "Contains less than (naming the percentage alcohol)" is also acceptable on low alcohol products.
Alcoholic beverages to which artificial flavouring preparations have been added to simulate the "taste" or sensory experience of vodka, but do not contain vodka, are considered acceptable, provided that it is clearly and prominently communicated to consumers that "Vodka flavoured" is referring to an artificial flavouring preparation rather than the addition of vodka as an ingredient. As with all products, the label and advertising cannot be false or misleading, or create an erroneous impression regarding the composition of the product.
It is recognized that aging plays a key role in the traditional brewing process. If increasing the time taken for the manufacturing process results in definite taste characteristics, certain claims relating to this aging process may be acceptable.
When materials introduced during processing contribute detectable characteristics to the final product, references to taste may also be made (for example, Beechwood aged taste). The sections Age claims for brandy, Age claims for gin, Age claims for rum and Age claims for whisky provide more details on the use of age claims for these products.
Foreign certificates of age and authenticity
Foreign certificates of age and authenticity for alcoholic beverages are accepted when they have been issued by a foreign government. Similar treatment is given to certificates issued by third parties that are recognized as valid by government officials of the issuing country. Certificates may be questioned when such acceptance is not evident.
Use of the term "dry"
In the case of alcoholic beverages, the term "dry" is not regarded as a sugar content claim and does not trigger the application of the Nutrition Facts table, providing no other statements or claims are made about the sugar content. The sections Use of the term "dry" for gin, Use of the term "dry" for liqueur, Use of the term "dry" for rum, Use of the term "dry" for whisky, Use of the term "dry" for vodka and Use of the term "dry" for wine provide more details on the use of "dry" claims for these products.
Government warning on imported alcoholic beverages
The following statement is acceptable in Canada. It is currently required in the U.S. on the labels of alcoholic beverages.
"Government Warning: In accordance to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects. Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery and may cause health problems."
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