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- Labelling requirements
- Product specific labelling requirements
For the purposes of this information, foods in shipping containers are considered to be prepackaged foods and include those that are packaged in any outer receptacle in which foods are sold or distributed at levels of trade other than to consumers at the retail level (that is to say, not consumer prepackaged). The foods inside shipping containers may be in bulk (meaning not further packaged inside the shipping container) or they may be further packaged into smaller units. Shipping containers may be destined for:
- further industrial processing
- catering use
- use by a commercial enterprise or an institution such as a restaurant, hospital, school, etc.
- repackaging from bulk into consumer prepackaged food
- resale directly from bulk container into consumer-sized portions, with the packaging done either by a clerk at the time of sale or by the consumer
- retailers who will remove units of consumer prepackaged foods from shipping containers to display them for sale
In the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR), shipping containers must meet the requirements that apply to prepackaged foods, as well as those that apply to "prepackaged other than consumer prepackaged" foods. For more information on the terminology used in the SFCR, refer to definition of "prepackaged" and "consumer prepackaged".
As mentioned in the labelling legislative framework, the Food and Drugs Act (FDA) and the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR), as well as the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) and the SFCR apply to foods at all levels of trade (retail and non-retail), which includes foods in shipping containers.
The Weights and Measurements Act (WMA) and the Weights and Measures Regulations (WMR) also apply at all levels of trade, and include a requirement for a net quantity declaration on shipping containers. However, the WMA and WMR are not enforced by the CFIA. Refer to Measurement Canada for more information.
The following mandatory labelling requirements apply to prepackaged other than consumer prepackaged foods, including shipping containers. For further information on each requirement, visit the Industry Labelling Tool.
- common name
- list of ingredients and allergen labelling
- name and principal place of business
- net quantity
- nutrition labelling
- other mandatory information as required for the product (for example, labelling of irradiated foods, previously frozen declaration)
The contents of a shipping container and their intended use will dictate the type of nutrition labelling required on the shipping container. These are:
- prepackaged products destined for the consumer (refer to general nutrition labelling requirements)
- foods for use in manufacturing other foods
- foods for a commercial or industrial enterprise or an institution
Foods for further preparation
Foods in shipping containers that are imported or interprovincially traded are often destined for further preparation. When labelled with the expression "For Further Preparation Only" or "pour conditionnement ultérieur seulement", foods are permitted to be non-compliant with the certain requirements of the SFCA and SFCR, provided they are brought into compliance by a licence holder within a set period of time [18, SFCR].
Some exceptions apply. For more information, refer to the exceptions and non-applications section of the guidance on Regulatory requirement: Trade.
Exemptions from specific requirements
Shipping containers are generally exempt from date marking and bilingual labelling requirements.
Date marking: A durable life date is generally not required on shipping containers, even if the products have a durable life of 90 days or less. However, if the container were to be sold to consumers at the retail level (as in some warehouse outlets), durable life date labelling would be required. For more information, refer to Date markings and storage instructions.
Bilingual labelling: Labelling information required by the FDR and SFCR on shipping containers destined for a commercial or industrial enterprise or an institution can generally be shown in only one official language, unless the shipping container and its contents are resold as a one unit prepackaged product to a consumer at the retail level. Certain exceptions may apply [B.01.012(11), FDR; 205, SFCR]. For more information, refer to Bilingual labelling.
Product specific labelling requirements
Shipping containers of irradiated foods have specific requirements beyond those for irradiated consumer prepackaged foods.
- The label attached to a shipping container containing irradiated foods must carry the following statements [B.01.035(7), FDR]:
- "irradiated", "treated with radiation", "treated by irradiation" or a written statement with the same meaning, and
- in the case of shipping containers of foods that have been subjected to the maximum permitted irradiation dose for that food, the statement "Do not irradiate again"
Shipping containers do not require the symbol that indicates the irradiated food [B.01.035(8), FDR].
For more information, refer to Irradiated foods.
Certain food commodities have specific requirements with respect to shipping containers. These can be found on the Food-specific labelling requirements pages of the Industry Labelling Tool and are those that apply to prepackaged foods, as well as prepackaged other than consumer prepackaged foods.
Claims and representations
Any claims or representations made on or with respect to food in a shipping container are subject to the same provisions outlined in the Claims and statements section of the Industry Labelling Tool.
- Consumer prepackaged
- Consumer prepackaged, in respect of a food, means a food packaged in a container in the manner in which the food is ordinarily sold to or used or purchased by an individual, or in which the food may reasonably be expected to be obtained by an individual, without being repackaged, to be used for non-commercial purposes [1, SFCR].
Person means an individual or an organization as defined in section 2 of the Criminal Code [2, FDA; 2, SFCA].
A person may therefore be an individual or an organization, and may include a consumer, a manufacturer, a retailer, an importer, a restaurant, any other commercial or industrial enterprise, an institution such as a school or hospital, and anyone else who sells, uses, or buys a food.
Prepackaged, in respect of a food, means packaged in a container in the manner in which the food is ordinarily sold to or used or purchased by a person, and includes consumer prepackaged [1, SFCR].
This definition is closely aligned with the FDR definition of prepackaged product.
- Prepackaged product
Prepackaged product means any food that is contained in a package in the manner in which it is ordinarily sold to or used or purchased by a person [B.01.001(1), FDR].
This definition is closely aligned with the SFCR definition of prepackaged.
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