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Decisions: Alcohol

Alcohol - Addition of Maltol to Standardized Alcoholic Beverages

Question: Can maltol be used in a standardized alcoholic beverage?

Answer: Maltol will be permitted in standardized alcoholic beverages where provision is made for a flavouring preparation. In 1978 a decision was made stating that maltol and ethyl maltol could be added to any product where a flavour preparation or seasoning etc. are permitted. This was recorded in the Ontario Food Policy Manual. There are no health and safety concerns related to the use of maltol.

Alcohol - Alcohol By Volume Declaration

Question: A product is sold in a multiple serving bottle with two compartments, containing two different liquors with different contents of alcohol by volume. The product is intended to be poured in such a manner as to form a layered drink of the two liquors.

Is it acceptable to declare on the main panel the single alcohol content of the final beverage, when poured according to instructions, and to declare the individual alcohol content of the two different liquors on the back label?

Answer: No. Due to the variability of proportions that could occur when the beverage is poured, the separate alcohol by volume declarations should be retained as the main panel declaration and the intended combined declaration may be shown on the back label, if at all. The alcohol by volume declaration should be that of the product as sold.

Alcohol - Common Name "Alcoholic Beverage"

Question: Would "alcoholic beverage" be an acceptable alternative common name for a malt beverage which does not meet any of the beer standards (B.02.130 to B.02.132, Food and Drug Regulations)?

Answer: Yes, the common name "Alcoholic Beverage" is an acceptable alternative to the common name "malt beverage" for a malt beverage that does not meet the beer standards but is made from ingredients such as malt, hops, corn syrup, etc., and which has an alcoholic content of 1.1% alc./vol. or more. Historically, generic terms such as "beverage", "drink", "cooler", "mix", etc., as appropriate, have been accepted in the common names of unstandardized foods. (07/Sept/94)

Alcohol - Composition of Liqueur

Question: Can an alcoholic beverage be called "liqueur" if it is made only from alcohol, a sweetening agent and ARTIFICIAL flavour?

Answer: No, an alcoholic beverage made only from alcohol, a sweetening agent and ARTIFICIAL flavour may not be called a "liqueur" because it does not conform to the standard for liqueurs and spirituous cordials in the Food and Drugs Act (section B.02.070). Specifically, a liqueur shall be the product obtained by the "mixing or distillation of alcohol from food sources with or over fruits, flowers, leaves or other botanical substances or their juices or with extracts derived by the infusion, percolation or maceration of those botanical substances".

However, an alcoholic beverage made solely from alcohol, a sweetening agent and a NATURAL flavour may be called a liqueur, as natural flavour is a "preparation of sapid or odorous principles or both, derived from the plant after which the flavour is named" (section B.10.005 of the Food and Drugs Act), and thus fulfils the above requirement for a liqueur.

Acceptable common names for a beverage made of alcohol, a sweetening agent and ARTIFICIAL flavour include "alcoholic beverage", "a liquor" or such generic terms as "beverage" or "drink". (30/Nov/90)

Alcohol - Country of Origin of Wine Declaration

Question: Could the statement "Blush Chablis of California" fulfill the requirement for a country of origin declaration on the label of a wine (section B.02.108 of the Food and Drug Regulations).

Answer: Yes, the statement "Blush Chablis of California" could suffice as a "country of origin" declaration, because:

  • section B.02.108 of the Regulations does not specify the wording of the country of origin statement, i.e. "Product of..."; and
  • it is unlikely that anyone would be misled regarding the origin of the product (knowing that California is part of the U.S.).

Consequently, this is considered an acceptable country of origin statement, and is consistent with the policy on the use of common names of wines which indicate place of origin such as "Champagne", "Burgundy', "Bordeaux", "Chablis", "Sherry", etc., as outlined in the Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising (Chapter VIII, Annex 1, section 2.2). (05/Apr/93)

Alcohol - Cream as an Ingredient of Liqueurs

Question: Can an alcoholic beverage be called "liqueur" if it contains "cream" as an ingredient?

Answer: No, "liqueur" is not permitted to contain "cream" as an ingredient (B.02.070 of the Food and Drug Regulations). There is no specific provision for its direct addition and it cannot be added indirectly as a "flavouring preparation" as it is not considered to be a flavouring preparation. Any addition of cream makes the final product an unstandardized alcoholic beverage which requires a list of ingredients. A word such as "liquor" could be used in the common name of such an unstandardized alcoholic beverage. (26/Jul/93)

Alcohol - Dealcoholized Wine - Composition

Question: What ingredients are permitted in an alcoholic beverage called "dealcoholized wine"?

Answer: Any ingredients that are permitted in "wine" (B.02.100 of the Food and Drug Regulations) are permitted in "dealcoholized wine".

A list of ingredients may or may not be needed on the label of "dealcoholized wine", depending on whether permitted ingredients are added before or after dealcoholization. For example, for ingredients added before dealcoholization, i.e. , during the course of manufacture of the original wine ingredient, a separate list of ingredients is not needed. "Dealcoholized wine" would suffice as both common name and list of ingredients. However, ingredients added after dealcoholization directly to the dealcoholized wine, must be declared in the list of ingredients, e.g., dealcoholized wine, sugar, glucose, etc.

If ingredients are added that are not permitted to be added to "wine", whether added before or after the dealcoholization, the common name "dealcoholized wine" is not acceptable. It could be called "Dealcoholized Wine Beverage", etc. and a list of ingredients is required. (27/Nov/92)

Alcohol - Dealcoholized Wine - "with Sweet Reserve"

Question: What is an appropriate common name for a wine which has been dealcoholized and has had single-strength grape juice ("sweet reserve") added to it.

Answer: "Dealcoholized Wine" is an acceptable common name for such a product, as the addition of single strength grape juice (sweet reserve) to "dealcoholized wine" is an acceptable industry practice. However, if ingredients not permitted by the wine standard, other than grape juice, are added to the product, then the product should be called "dealcoholized wine beverage" or "dealcoholized wine with (naming the ingredient)" etc. (08/Jun/92).

Alcohol - Dealcoholized Wine - Water Replacement

Question: Can "dealcoholized wine" contain added water as an ingredient?

Answer: Yes, it may contain added water as an ingredient but only in an amount to replace that which is removed during the dealcoholization process, which generally removes water as well as alcohol. The water is returned to the wine after dealcoholization and need not be declared as an ingredient. (04/Jun/92)

Alcohol - Dealcoholized Wine - Alcohol Content

Question: Is there a maximum amount of alcohol that is allowed in "dealcoholized wine"?

Answer: "Dealcoholized" means that the alcohol content has been reduced to less than 1.1 %, which is considered to be an insignificant level. Wine that has not had its alcohol content reduced to this level is not considered to be "dealcoholized" and would have to be described by a common name such as "Partially Dealcoholized Wine". The percentage of alcohol by volume contained in "partially dealcoholized wine" must be shown on the principal display panel of an alcoholic beverage. (05/Apr/93)

Alcohol - Foreign Certificates of Age and Authenticity for Alcoholic Beverages

Question: What are the criteria for accepting foreign certificates of age and authenticity for alcoholic beverages?

Answer: Foreign certificates of age and authenticity are accepted without question when they have been issued by a foreign government. Similar treatment is given to certificates issued by third parties that are recognized as valid by government officials of the issuing country. Certificates are questioned only when such acceptance is not evident. (10/Mar/94)

Alcohol - Fortified Wine

Question: May a flavoured wine which contains 17% alcohol, bear the common name "flavoured wine" and declare on the label "fortified grape wine with citrus juice and herbs"?

Answer: Yes, a flavoured wine containing 17% alcohol may carry the common name "Flavoured Wine" and make the claim "fortified grape wine with citrus juice and herbs", since the alcoholic content of the wine is close to that of other "fortified wines" such as "sherry". However, the following conditions must be satisfied:

  • the product must conform to the standard for Flavoured Wine in the Food and Drug Regulations (section B.02.105); and
  • the citrus juice must conform to the standard for juice as prescribed by the Food and Drug Regulations (section B.11.120). (27/Jul/91)

Alcohol - Fruit Spirit with added Maple Syrup

Question: May a product made from apple fruit spirit and 13% pure maple syrup carry the common name "maple flavoured liqueur"?

Answer: No, this product may not be described as a "liqueur" or a "maple flavoured liqueur", as it does not meet the standard of composition for a liqueur in the Food and Drug Regulations (section B.02.070). This is an unstandardized product and, as such, the following common names would be acceptable: "fruit spirit with added maple syrup" or "maple flavoured fruit spirit" or "maple flavoured liquor". (22/Oct/93; 27/Jul/94.)

Alcohol - Government Warning on Imported Alcoholic Beverages

Question: Is the following statement acceptable on labels of imported alcoholic beverages in Canada?

"GOVERNMENT WARNING: In accordance to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects. Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery and may cause health problems."

Answer: Yes, this statement is acceptable in Canada. It is currently required in the U.S. on the labels of alcoholic beverages. Other similar statements will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. (22/Apr/91)

Alcohol - Light Liqueurs Comparison Statements

Question: When making a claim for the reduction in percent alcohol on the label of a light liqueur, to what alcohol level should the comparison be made?

Answer: When calculating the reduction in alcohol of a light liqueur, the base point of 23% alcohol could be used, as this is the minimum level required by the standard for liqueurs (section B.02.70 of the Food and Drug Regulations). A comparison statement to the effect that the product "Contains at least (X)% less alcohol than regular/standard liqueurs" would then be accurate. If, however, comparison is made to a specific brand, then the actual alcohol content of that brand should be used for comparison.

Representations that characterize the amount of alcohol in alcoholic beverages that contain more than 0.5% alcohol are provided for in B.01.502(2)(j). The percentage difference stated in the comparative claim must be accurate and not misleading. (updated: 2006)

Alcohol - Light Liqueurs with Sucralose

Question: May a liqueur that differs from the standard in that it is sweetened with sucralose be described as a "light liqueur"?

Answer:  Answer: Yes, if the product meets the requirements for the nutrient content claim "light" by meeting the conditions for a "reduced in energy" claim. All of the compositional and labelling criteria for the claim must be met, as per section 7.10 of the 2003 Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising. This claim causes a loss of exemption from the Nutrition Facts table requirement for the product (FDR B.01.401(3)(e)(ii)). The label must include the supporting information for the "light" claim, e.g. "25 % less Calories than (naming the regular liqueur)" adjacent to and in at least the same size and prominence as the most prominent "light" claim.

In addition to the basic labelling requirements for alcoholic beverages, the following conditions must be fulfilled:

  • The product must conform to the labelling policy on "modified common names" as outlined in the Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising (section 4.2.2). This policy requires that, on the label and in any advertisements, the consumer is told in a clear and prominent manner how the food with the modified common name deviates from the standard for liqueur in the Food and Drug Regulations (section B.02.070). This may be satisfied in part by the statement required as supporting information for the "light" claim (e.g. "25 % less Calories than (naming the regular liqueur)"), in addition to a prominent statement on the principal display panel indicating that the product is "sweetened with sucralose". Alternatively, the common name of the beverage may indicate how the product differs from the standard, e.g. "Light Liqueur Sweetened with Sucralose". In this case, the supporting information for the light claim must still be provided, adjacent to and in at least the same size and prominence as the most prominent "light" claim on the principal display panel.
  • The label must also comply with labelling requirements for foods sweetened with sucralose (section B.01.016 of the Food and Drug Regulations).
  • A list of ingredients must be declared since this product deviates from the standard for "liqueur", it is no longer exempt from declaring an ingredient list, as this exemption applies only to standardized alcoholic beverages (section B.01.009 of the Food and Drug Regulations). (updated: 2006)

Alcohol - Low Alcohol Wine

Question: May a wine, which contains 2.2% alcohol, be described as "low alcohol" on the label or in an advertisement?

Answer: No, "low alcohol" beverages contain less than 1.1% alcohol.

Alcohol - Other Botanical Substances

Question:Does the term "other botanical substances" as used in Division 2 (Alcoholic Beverages) of the Food and Drug Regulations include "flavour preparations"?

Answer: No, the term "other botanical substances" does not include "flavour preparations". (02/Nov/92)

Alcohol - Sugar Cane Spirit

Question: Is "sugar cane spirit" an acceptable common name for a product made from the distillation of fermented sugar cane juice.

Answer: Yes, "sugar cane spirit" is acceptable as a common name. Since the product is unstandardized, it requires a complete list of ingredients. (22/Dec/92)

Alcohol - Vodka Flavoured Beverages

Question: Could an alcoholic beverage to which a flavouring or artificial flavouring preparation has been added be called a "Vodka Flavoured Beverage"?

Answer:Alcoholic beverages to which flavouring or artificial flavouring preparations have been added in order to simulate the "taste" or sensory experience of vodka, but do not contain vodka, are considered acceptable, provided that it is clearly and prominently communicated to consumers that "Vodka" is referring to a flavouring or artificial flavouring preparation rather than the addition of vodka as an ingredient. The label and advertising of such alcoholic beverages cannot be false or misleading, or create an erroneous impression regarding the composition of the product.

Clarifying information such as "Vodka Flavoured", should be legible, in clear contrast to the background, in the same font and colour, not less than ½ the type height of the largest type in the highlighted ingredient or flavour claim, and meet the type height requirements of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations (CPLR), where applicable, to avoid misleading consumers