Operational procedure: Food nutrient content and claims verification
On this page
- 1.0 Purpose
- 2.0 Authorities
- 3.0 Reference documents
- 4.0 Definitions
- 5.0 Acronyms
- 6.0 Operational procedure
The purpose of this document is to provide guidance to Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) inspection staff when conducting a food nutrient content and claims verification.
The procedure outlined below may be used when verifying compliance of a food label and advertisement, to support export certification, to aid in the assessment of a Preventive Control (PC) related sub–element, as part of a food safety investigation or follow–up to a complaint.
This document is intended to be used in conjunction with other guidance documents as referenced in section 3.0, reference documents.
- Agriculture and Agri–Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act
- Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act
- Food and Drugs Act (FDA) (as it relates to food)
- Food and Drug Regulations (FDR)
- Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA)
- Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR)
The inspection powers, control actions and enforcement actions authorized by the above legislation are identified and explained in the Operational guideline: Food regulatory response guidelines.
3.0 Reference documents
- Operational guidance: Standard Inspection Process
- DSDP SOP INS – conducting an inspection (accessible only on the Government of Canada network – RDIMS 9839405)
- CFIA sampling information (accessible only on the Government of Canada network)
- Nutrition Labelling Training (NTI 16B123) (accessible only on the Government of Canada network)
- Introduction to Food Labelling Training (NTI A–10) (accessible only on the Government of Canada network)
- Operational guideline: Guidelines on categorizing labelling and advertising non–compliance and timeframes for correction (accessible only on the Government of Canada network – RDIMS 9912657)
- Operational guideline: Food sample collection
- Operational guideline: Food regulatory response guidelines
- Operational procedure: Basic food label verification
- Operational directive: Direction on compliance and enforcement activities for the amendments to the Food and Drug Regulations related to nutrition labelling, list of ingredients and food colours (accessible only on the Government of Canada network – RDIMS 11214835)
- Nutrition labelling compliance test
- Industry guidance: CFIA Industry Labelling Tool
- Health Canada – Compendium of Templates for Nutrition Facts Tables and List of Ingredients
- Health Canada – Directory of Nutrition Facts Table Formats
- Health Canada – Lists of foods that have received Temporary Marketing Authorization Letters
- Health Canada – Table of Reference Amounts for Food
- Health Canada – Table of Daily Values
- Health Canada – Health Claim Assessments
Definitions are located in the documents listed below or as a defined word where it is intended to supersede the definitions within the glossary documents:
Acronyms are spelled out the first time they are used in this document and are consolidated in the Food business line acronyms list.
6.0 Operational procedure
This operational procedure provides inspection staff guidance when conducting a food nutrient content and claims verification. This inspection task is performed by the inspector to verify the accuracy of the Nutrition Facts table (NFt), the nutrient content claims and health claims on food labels and advertisement according to regulatory requirements.
On December 14, 2016, amendments to nutrition labelling, list of ingredients and food colour requirements of the FDR came into force. Regulated parties had until December 14, 2022 to meet the new labelling requirements. Please consult the Operational directive – Direction on compliance and enforcement activities for the amendments to the Food and Drug Regulations related to nutrition labelling, list of ingredients and food colours (accessible only on the Government of Canada network – RDIMS 11214835).
Where more specific guidance is required then what is provided in the Standard inspection process (SIP), these will be indicated in this section.
Commodity inspection operational guidance (OG) refers the inspector to the SIP for basic guidance on the 4 inspection steps. If the commodity inspection is being conducted to support a preventive control inspection (PCI) currently underway, some or parts of the inspection steps will have already been completed.
6.1 Prepare for inspection
Refer to SIP, section 3.0, step 1 – Prepare for the inspection. In addition to the general guidance provided in SIP, the following applies.
|DSDP data field selection
|Preventive Control Inspection Plan
Sample Collection Plan
Commodity Inspection Plan
|Inspection task level 1
|Inspection task level 2
|Nutrient content and claims verification
6.2 Conduct the inspection
Refer to SIP, section 4, step 2 – Conduct the inspection. In addition to the general guidance provided in the SIP, the following applies.
6.2.1 Verification of the NFt
The NFt is mandatory for most prepackaged foods and must be presented in a certain manner when it appears on a food label [section B.01.001 and subsection B.01.401 (1) of the FDR]. Some foods are exempt from nutrition labelling, and presenting an NFt is strictly prohibited for certain other foods. Please consult the exemptions and prohibitions in the Nutrition Labelling section of the Industry Labelling Tool (ILT) for more information.
Steps for evaluating the NFt:
- Check whether the NFt is present (if not, verify whether it is an exempt food or if the food is intended for use in manufacturing other foods)
- Check whether the NFt is bilingual (if not, verify if there is an applicable exemption)
- Check the location and orientation criteria of the NFt
- Based on the format decision trees (available under the Nutrition Facts Table Formats section of the ILT), check whether the specific format and version (size) of the NFt have been correctly chosen based on the Available Display Surface (ADS) of the packaging. Select the largest version of the formats that fits within 15% of the ADS on one continuous surface. For more information on the ADS, including on calculating the ADS, refer to Available Display Surface under the Nutrition Labelling section of the ILT. Consult the page Steps for Choosing a Nutrition Facts Table under the Nutrition Labelling section of the ILT
- Check whether the NFt information is presented in accordance with subsections B.01.401 and B.01.402 of the FDR: serving size, mandatory nutrients, supplementary information, units (g, mg, %DV), terminology, etc
- Check whether the nutrient values have been rounded in accordance with the FDR (column 4 of the table following section B.01.401 and of the table following section B.01.402 of the FDR)
- Check whether the prescribed technical and graphic criteria have been respected, for example, spacing, font, font size, indents, colours, using the nutrition labelling rules. Consult the page Graphic and Technical Requirements within the Nutrition Facts Table under the Nutrition Labelling section of the ILT for a summary of technical and graphic requirements
Where there is a doubt on values in the NFt, ask the licence holder for supporting documents and/or analysis done on the product. If the regulated party is not a licence holder and does not have supporting documents, you may choose to sample the product and use the Nutrition Labelling Compliance Test to evaluate the accuracy of nutritional data on food. Please refer to the Operational guideline: Food sample collection and the appropriate sampling plan on the web page CFIA sampling information (accessible only on the Government of Canada network).
Take into consideration the overall impression created by the logos, symbols, graphics, slogans, trademarks, brand names etc. in conjunction with the claim wording.
There are several types of claims. Those that link to the nutrients in a food are listed below.
22.214.171.124 Nutrient content claims
Nutrient content claims are statements or expressions which describe, directly or indirectly, the level of a nutrient or energy in a food or a group of foods, such as "low in sodium", "source of fibre" and "source of energy." The list of permitted nutrient content claims can be found in the table following section B.01.513 of the FDR.
Follow the steps listed on the Steps for making a nutrient content claim page under the Nutrient Content Claims section of the ILT to verify whether the claim is permitted and meets the requirements of the FDR.
It is also permitted to make quantitative declarations about the energy or nutrient values per serving indicated outside the NFt, on labels or in advertising [B.01.301, FDR]. More information about this is available on the page Quantitative declarations outside the Nutrition Facts table under the Nutrient Content Claims section of the ILT.
126.96.36.199 Health claims
A health claim is any representation in labelling or advertising that states, suggests, or implies that a relationship exists between the consumption of a food and health.
Follow the steps listed on the page Steps for determining the type of health claim in the Health Claims section of the ILT to determine the claim type and criteria associated with each type. The list of health claims with specific wording requirements is found in the table following section B.01.603 of the FDR. Refer to Health Canada's Health Claim Assessments page for a list of health claims submitted, reviewed and accepted.
6.2.3 Categorize non–compliance
If a non–compliance is identified related to food labelling and advertising, consult the Operational guideline: Guidelines on categorizing labelling and advertising non–compliance and timeframes for correction (accessible only on the Government of Canada network – RDIMS 9912657) and the Operational guideline: Food regulatory response guidelines.
6.2.4 Capturing notes related to commodity inspection in DSDP
For information on capturing notes relating to commodity inspections in the DSDP, refer to Appendix A section 5.4.1 of the SIP and section 3.5.1 of the DSDP SOP INS – conducting an inspection (accessible only on the Government of Canada network – RDIMS 9839405).
In addition to capturing an accurate description (brand name, common name, net quantity, lot number) of the commodity inspected in the "Commodity Description" field in DSDP, enter the same commodity description in the "objective evidence" field along with the non–compliances found so that it appears in the final inspection report.
6.3 Communicate the results
Refer to SIP, section 5.0, step 3 – Communicate the inspection results. In addition to the general guidance provided in the SIP, the following applies
6.4 Conduct follow–up
Refer to SIP, section 6.0, step 4 – Conduct the follow–up inspection. In addition to the general guidance provided in SIP, the following applies.
For general inquiries related to this Operational Guidance Document, follow established communication channels, including submitting an electronic Request for Action Form (e–RAF) (accessible only on the Government of Canada network).
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