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Food advertising requirements
Educational material versus advertising

The difference between advertising material that promotes a product and material that is solely for educational purposes is important to understand when determining the legal requirements associated with the material.

All representations that directly or indirectly promote the consumption or sale of a food are considered to be advertising and thereby subject to: the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations, the Safe Food for Canadians Act and Regulations, and other federal or provincial statutes and guidelines, including the Competition Act [subsections 52(1), 52.1 and 74.02], and the Trade-marks Act [Section 7]. The recipient of the representation is "anyone" as no exclusions are mentioned.

Print and broadcast material must be assessed on a case-by-case basis as to whether it is considered to be advertising subject to federal statutes, or whether it is uniquely for educational purposes.

In general, information or material produced or sponsored by the food industry may be considered "educational" rather than "advertising" when the following five criteria are satisfied:

This policy applies to printed and broadcast materials produced, sponsored or distributed by persons advertising or selling food, including manufacturers, retailers, restaurateurs, producer organizations and advertisers, with or without, the collaboration of health associations.

Example of an educational brochure

If a carrot grower wants to publish a brochure to inform consumers about the role of the diet in disease prevention, the brochure may focus on a food group or class of foods (vegetables and fruits), but must be presented in the context of Canada's Food Guide. Additionally, the grower may identify its corporate brand (Brand X) of carrots on the cover of the brochure without giving it undue prominence, but, the manufacturer cannot mention Brand X carrots, or its other products or brands, within the brochure. Lastly, the brochure may not be displayed at point-of-sale in close proximity to either Brand X carrots or to any other brand of carrots.

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