Pictures, vignettes, logos and trademarks on food labels
Third party endorsements
For the purposes of food labelling and advertising, a third party endorsement means the approval or sanction of a food by any professional or organization, or any individual or group. The use of a name, logo, symbol, seal of approval or other certification mark of a third party-organization, whether on a food label or in an advertisement, may lead consumers to believe that the food is endorsed by this third party.
Third-party endorsements may be considered misleading or deceptive when a food bearing an endorsement is represented as being superior to foods not bearing the endorsement. They may also be considered misleading if they are used in such a way as to suggest that consuming the food may, in and of itself, confer health benefits or prevent, treat or cure a disease.
Third-party endorsement policy
Third party endorsements or logos should be used with caution. Consumers must not be misled or deceived about the merits of a food, and they should be able to judge the merit of the endorsing organization. Third-party endorsements must:
- avoid giving the impression that a single food or brand of food is "healthier" than, or nutritionally superior to, other foods not bearing the third party's name, statement, logo, symbol, seal of approval or other proprietary mark. Health is imparted by the total diet rather than by individual foods
- avoid giving the impression that the food is a treatment, preventative or cure for disease. A third-party's name, statement, logo and so on must not suggest that a food may prevent a Schedule A disease. Such a suggestion is false and specifically prohibited by the FDA
To do so, at least one of the following must appear on the label:
- a statement that clearly explains the reason for the appearance of the third party's name, statement, logo, etc. (For example, is this a joint education program of Company X and Organization Y? Has Company X provided financial support, or is it a sponsor of a campaign such as a Nutrition Week Campaign of Organization Y? Is the symbol present because a certain amount of the proceeds from the sale of the product will go towards an organizational charity?)
- the name of the third party (with or without its logo, symbol, or other proprietary mark) clearly shown, in conjunction with its nutrition recommendations or dietary guidelines or those it endorses. The nutrition recommendations of this third-party must be consistent with the recommended pattern of eating presented in Canada's food guide and Canada's Dietary Guidelines
- a clear indication that the name, statement, logo, etc. of the third party does not constitute an endorsement of the food
It is not acceptable to use the logo of the Canadian Dental Association on the label of sugar-free gum nor is it acceptable to state "Recognized by the Canadian Dental Association to be safe for teeth". The logo and statement imply that the gum is superior health-wise to others.
However, the statement "Sugar-free gums are recognized by the Canadian Dental Association to be safe for teeth", which refers to all gum of that type, is acceptable if the use of the endorsement follows the above criteria.
This policy applies to third-party endorsements from organizations providing health and nutrition information for a single food or single brand of food. This is the case whether the endorsement appears on food labels or in food advertisements, and whether the food is displayed in retail outlets, restaurants or food service establishments.
This policy however does not apply to third-party endorsements by organizations providing health and nutrition information for groups or classes of foods. For example, it does not apply to:
- associations providing nutrition information to promote consumption of that type of foods (for example, a dairy association promoting the consumption of dairy products)
- the gluten-free symbol of the Canadian Celiac Association. This symbol is recognized by consumers with celiac disease and is unlikely to be perceived by the general public as an endorsement by a health organization
- additional exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis
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