Using Canada Grade Names in Advertising

Using Canada Grade Names in Advertising

Jun 28, 2019 | Jeff Honey


I recently saw an ad in a weekly flyer with Canada No. 1 grade on an ungraded commodity. I wondered if the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) would deem this to be a ticketable offence under Ontario Regulation O. Reg. 119/11, so I asked them. 

Their response stated that O. Reg. 119/11 requires a sign on or immediately over a display of produce offered for retail sale to state:

  • The country or province where the produce was grown or harvested
  • In the case of peppers, use “sweet” or “hot” as appropriate
  • If the produce is sold by weight, the price per unit of weight

False or misleading information on any label, package or master container of produce, in any advertisement for produce or in a retail display sign is prohibited by O. Reg. 119/11. The regulation prohibits misrepresentation of:

  • The name and address of the packer. If the packer packs the produce on behalf of a retailer, producer or another person, the person on whose behalf it is packed must be stated
  • The place where the produce was grown or harvested
  • The amount of produce contained in the package

OMAFRA investigates complaints related to provincial regulations.

OMAFRA works directly with vendors and retailers in Ontario to educate on the regulatory requirements for signage and labelling, such as providing in-person training sessions.

The Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001 allows for penalties to be assessed to either individuals or corporations, depending on the circumstances of the infraction.

Vendors or retailers found not to be in compliance with these regulations could face detention of non-compliant goods, be ticketed or prosecuted.

I asked if the ad with Canada No. 1 grade on an ungraded product would be taken as “false or misleading” by OMAFRA and trigger a ticket. I was told that the use of Canada grade names falls under federal jurisdiction. (CFIA does not have jurisdiction on fresh produce that has not moved interprovincially or internationally.) OMAFRA can issue monetary penalties for violations of any of the six bullet points noted above, but they are reviewed on a case by case basis when a complaint is filed.

Here is my advice to you: “When in doubt, be in compliance with the regulations.” The OPMA developed the attached you see below a few years ago for the membership. Please use it. Do not learn the hard way that you are not in compliance!