Labels, Packaging and Design

A Quick Yet Complete Guide to Labelling and Advertising Canadian Pet Food

If you are a Canadian pet food maker, you already know that calls for clearer labelling and adverting standards have been changing your industry. This includes stricter enforcement of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and the Competition Act to address issues with false and misleading representations. As label and packaging experts, we wanted to give you a fast, easy-to-read, and comprehensive guide to those changes.

The background

In April 1998, the Competition Bureau of Industry Canada convened a working group. This group comprised Canadian pet food makers and importers, federal officials, and consumer representatives. The aim was to develop a voluntary code of conduct, aiding the industry in labelling and advertising pet foods responsibly while serving as a reference for the Competition Bureau’s enforcement efforts. They made an official Guide that we will summarize here.

What exactly does the Guide apply to?

The Guide applies to all claims regarding pet food products in labelling, advertising, and other marketing materials. It specifically addresses prepackaged pet food for dogs and cats, excluding pet treats or food for other pets, as well as products classified as “drugs” under the Food and Drugs Act.

What’s the purpose of the Guide?

While not legally binding, the Guide outlines mandatory labelling requirements under the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act. It also emphasizes best practices to ensure consumers receive clear and accurate information, providing a “safe harbour” for manufacturers and importers adhering to these guidelines. Moreover, it offers benchmarks for the Competition Bureau to assess potential violations of relevant legislation, reducing the likelihood of issues arising if the Guide is followed.



The New Guidelines for Pet Food Labeling and Advertising

Here’s the scoop on what the guide says:

  1. General
  • Labels must meet requirements outlined in federal and provincial Acts and Regulations, providing essential information such as common name, net weight, ingredients, feeding instructions, guaranteed analysis, and suitability for specific life stages.
  • Labels should avoid any misleading statements or representations.
  • Mandatory labelling requirements are specified by the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act, detailed further in the Guide available on the Competition Bureau’s website.
  1. Guaranteed Nutrient Analysis
  • Labels must include guaranteed analysis for protein, fat, fibre, and moisture, stated on an “as fed” basis and verifiable through recognized analytical methods.
  • Preservatives need not be included in the guaranteed analysis.
  1. Ingredients
  • Ingredients must be listed by their common or usual names, with preservatives identified separately.
  • Major ingredients must be listed in descending order by weight.
  • Statements regarding added water should be included where applicable.
  1. Product Name
  • Product names must accurately represent ingredient proportions, avoiding misleading impressions.
  • For products where an ingredient constitutes 90% or more of the total mass, its name may form part of the product name without qualification.
  • Similar rules apply for ingredient proportions between 25% and 90%, and less than 25%.
  1. Nutritional Adequacy & Nutrient Profiles
  • Products meeting specific life stage requirements can make corresponding claims, supported by feeding tests or nutrient profiles.
  • Claims must accurately reflect the product’s nutritional value and intended use.
  1. Claims
  • Claims must be accurate, relevant, and not misleading, based on proper tests and presented in a clear context.
  • Comparative claims and health claims must be substantiated and comply with existing regulations.
  1. Misrepresentation
  • Businesses must avoid false or misleading representations regarding their operations, products, or testing procedures.
  1. Deceptive Endorsements
  • False or misleading endorsements, testimonials, or awards must be avoided, and claims must be substantiated.

Need help making legally compliant labels?

Please let us know! Making sure our clients are well informed is a high priority at Great Little Box Company/Ideon Packaging (GLBC). If you feel like you need some consultation to figure out the finer points of these guidelines, we’d love to hear from you.



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