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Decisions: Meals

Meals and Entrées

Question: What foods have to meet the compositional requirements for a prepackaged meal as set out in Division 1 of the Food and Drug Regulations?

Answer: A prepackaged food that is represented as a meal is required to meet the compositional requirements for a prepackaged meal as set out in section B.01.001 of the Food and Drug Regulations. Specifically, a "prepackaged meal" is a prepackaged selection of food for one individual that requires no preparation other than heating and that contains at least one serving, as described in Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating, published in 1992 by the Department of Supply and Services by authority of the Minister of National Health and Welfare, of

  • meat, fish, poultry, legumes, nuts, seeds, eggs or milk or milk products other than butter, cream, sour cream, ice cream, ice milk and sherbert, and
  • vegetables, fruit or grain products.

Foods described using the words "meal", "breakfast", "lunch", "dinner", and similar terms are usually considered to be represented as a meal for the purposes of Division 1. Also, a brand name which suggests that the product is a meal, by including the name of a meal as part of the brand name, must meet the requirements for a meal.

Products described as an "entrée" do not have to meet the requirements for a meal. Therefore, if an entreé is packed under a brand name which includes the name of a meal, e.g., "Lunch", it is necessary to indicate clearly, in the brand name or in conjunction with the brand name, that it is an entreé, e.g., "Lunch (naming the brand) Entreé", in order to exempt it from meeting the requirements of a meal.

Some foods are often referred to generically in conversation as "TV dinners". They are not subject to Division 1. However, in the unlikely event that they are labelled using the words "TV Dinner", they would be subject to the requirements of Division 1.

"Junior Dinners" are designed for very young children. They are not considered meals as described above and, as such, are not subject to these requirements. (SE 22/94; NO 09/94)