Under its Fair Labelling Practices Program, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has tested food products such as confectionary, snack foods, baked goods and cereal and found that many fail to live up to the information on their labels.
The results of the CFIA’s latest labelling inspection project, the bakery and cereal category, found that of the 489 products tested, only 101 passed without a labelling non-compliance.
In other recent labelling inspection projects the CFIA found:
• Of 338 confectionary products tested, 288 were found to have at least one non-compliance.
• Of the 296 snack foods, the CFIA tested, 201 had at least one non-compliance.
The CFIA says that when a labelling issue is identified, it will follow up with the responsible party to address all areas of non-compliance.
If enforcement is necessary, the CFIA says it can take the following actions:
• Offer manufacturer/distributor education;
• Distribute an information letter to advise the manufacturer/distributor of the errors
• Require the manufacturer/distributor to make correction prior to sale
• Enforce voluntary disposal/removal
• Issue a written warning
• Seize product
With the current levels of non-compliance on technical non-food-safety labelling issues, the CFIA says it will continue to work with the food processing sectors to ensure that these products are brought into full compliance.
The CFIA adds that it prioritizes its activities taking into account risk among other factors.
These commodities were chosen as an inspection focus for labelling due to concerns identified through monitoring and priorities determined by an advisory committee.
The CFIA says the relatively high rates of non-compliance were anticipated and that it will follow up with the responsible party to address all areas of non-compliance.
Labelling inspection projects
During an inspection, inspectors decide which types of inspection should be carried out on a particular product.
Inspectors will focus on products and types of inspection where non-compliance is suspected. So a high rate of non-compliance is to be expected.
One or more types of inspection may be carried out on each product. For each type of inspection, there are different potential labelling non-compliances.
Other recent projects include olive oil and ground meat adulteration prevention, and fish species authentication.
Inspectors focused on products where non-compliance was suspected.
The results include:
Olive oils (2009-2010)
Of the 53 products inspected, three had the suspected presence of other oils not permitted by the standard.
Ground meat (2009-2010)
Products were inspected for net quantity, composition/claims, labelling, advertising, foreign species and fat.
Of the 100 inspected for composition/claims, for instance, 12 products had violations; of the 76 inspected for labelling non-compliance, 35 had violations.
For fish species, products were tested to determine any mislabelling of the fish species.
Of the 60 products sampled, one was suspected to have the presence of other fish species.