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Decisions: Ingredients List

Brand names in ingredient list

Question: Can the brand name of an ingredient be included with the ingredient common name in the ingredients list?

Answer:  An ingredient must be listed in the ingredients list by its common name, as required by B.01.010(2) of the Food and Drug Regulations. The common name means the name of the food printed in boldface type in the Food and Drug Regulations, the name prescribed by any other regulations, or if the name of the food is not so printed or prescribed, the name by which the food is generally known (B.01.001 of the Food and Drug Regulations). The Food and Drug Regulations do not contain a provision for the use of a brand name in the ingredients list. It is considered misleading to include a brand name as it does not provide clear information concerning the common name of the ingredient added to the food. Extra words in an ingredients list can also reduce the legibility of the required information, (A.01.016 of the Food and Drug Regulations).

(Headquarters, March 2004)

Additional Descriptive Information in Ingredient Lists

Question: Is additional descriptive information acceptable in an ingredient list?

Answer: Although there is no specific prohibition against descriptive information from appearing in the list of ingredients, the appearance of other descriptions, including brand names, is discouraged. Descriptions do not usually provide a clear picture of the contents of the product and could be considered misleading. There would be no objection to factual descriptions appearing separately and distinctly from the list of ingredients on any other part of the label.

In general, objection will not be taken to the following appearing in the list of ingredients:

  1. a statement of an additive's function, in brackets, e.g., "soy lecithin (an emulsifier)"
  2. a description of a significant alteration of an ingredient, e.g., "deflavoured apple juice"
  3. adjectives and descriptions that help to differentiate different versions of the same ingredient, e.g., "organic", "fresh tomatoes", "sun dried tomatoes", "pure milk chocolate", "natural spring water", etc.
  4. information that assists in identifying an allergen, e.g., "wheat flour", "corn starch", etc.
  5. U.S. equivalents for colour are acceptable in brackets, e.g. tartrazine (FD&C Yellow No.5)

Other acceptable descriptions for use in the list of ingredients will be considered on a case-by-case basis. (18/August/1998)

Two Separate Ingredients Lists

Question: Can two separate ingredient lists, a Canadian version and another country's version, be declared on the label of a food? For example, the label would state "US ingredients:" and "Canadian ingredients" respectively.

Answer:  No. There should be only one ingredient list per official language, using the appropriate Canadian ingredient and component common names in accordance with the Food and Drug Regulations. For more information on the Canadian requirements, consult section 2.8 of the 2003 Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising.

(Headquarters, January 2007)