Food composition and quality claims
Foods (or selected food factors) cannot be compared unless the comparison is complete, and the foods are similar in character, composition or other attributes of the food relevant to the comparison being made. The comparison of one food with another should not create doubt about the value of the other food. Examples of scenarios where considerable care must be taken include:
- when comparing solid foods with liquid foods either on a mass-for-mass or volume-for-volume basis;
- when comparing a food consumed in small quantities with one consumed in large quantities; and
- when comparing a food eaten occasionally with one that is consumed regularly.
For comparative claims related to the nutrient content of food, see Comparative Nutrient Content Claims.
With respect to comparative claims in food advertising, Advertising Standards Canada has prepared a publication, Guidelines for the Use of Comparative Advertising and Guidelines for the Use of Research and Survey Data to Support Comparative Advertising Claims – PDF (92 kb). Additional context is provided in the section on Advertising.
Words such as "better" and "richer" often imply a comparison without indicating the factor being compared or the product used as a reference point. Without these clarifications, a comparison is incomplete and could be misleading. For example, if a product is an improvement over one previously made by the same firm, this should be clearly indicated along with the nature of the improvement.
Similarly, foods are often described as "new" or "improved". The term "new" implies that the food has never before been offered for sale by the manufacturer, or that the product has been substantially altered. However, in many cases, the term "new" simply describes the packaging, the labelling or such factors as a new flavour.
"Improved" implies that the food, or some aspect of the food, has been modified to make it better than before. The way in which a food is new or improved should be stated on the label and in advertisements, unless the reason is perfectly clear.
A claim that a product is "new" or "improved" is valid for a period of one year or less in the region where it is made. After that period, the claim would be considered misleading: the altered product could no longer be considered "new". However, manufacturers that have distinct marketing areas for their products (e.g., different plants supplying different regions of the country), could choose to phase in the "new" version of the product, using a different schedule in each market area. For example, a company with seven distinct marketing areas could decide to introduce the new version of its product in Winnipeg, and then in a different area of the country every two months. In a year, the product would no longer be "new" in Winnipeg, but it might well be new in another region.
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