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Decisions: Samples

Door to Door Distribution

Question: Are food samples which are sent door to door, supplied free of cost to the consumer, required to be labelled in compliance with the Food and Drug Regulations?

Answer: Yes, the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations apply to all food which is sold in Canada (sections 3 to 7 of the Act). The definition of "sell" in the Act (section 2) includes "distribute, whether or not the distribution is made for consideration". Consequently, free samples of food which are distributed door to door, must comply with the labelling requirements of the Food and Drug Regulations. (11/Jul/91)

These requirements include a Nutrition Facts table, where applicable. (updated 2010)

Free Samples

Question: Must foods meet federal labelling requirements when they are provided free to consumers as part of door-to-door surveys.

Answer: Yes, since the Food and Drug Regulations specify that "sell" includes "distribute", and B.01.004 requires that a label must be applied to the food or its container when sold, foods provided for consumer evaluation, even when provided free of charge, must be labelled accordingly. Under the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations, however, the definition of "sell" does not apply, as it does not include "distribute". This means that information required by the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations is not required, e.g., a net quantity declaration. (11/Jul/91)

This includes a Nutrition Facts table, where applicable as required at the end transition period December 12,2005 for most manufacturers. Or December 12, 2007 for small manufacturers with revenues from sales in Canada of less than $1 million for 12 months preceding December 12, 2002. (updated 2006)