Labelling practices for "Identity and principal place of business" (IPPB) are due for modernization
The identity and principal place of business (IPPB) is a core feature on a Canadian food label. It is known colloquially as the “dealer name and address,” “domicile” or “signature” statement. The Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) require this feature on all food labels sold in Canada. The Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations (CPLR) spells out how this is to be declared on consumer prepackaged products. It is essential information that identifies the point of contact and identity of the party responsible for the food.
The two basic elements of the IPPB are the identity of the responsible party, known as the “dealer,” and a physical location of the business. Under the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act (CPLA) dealer means “a person who is a retailer, manufacturer, processor or producer of a product, or a person who is engaged in the business of importing, packing or selling any product.” Despite the lack of explicitness, the name is typically the legal name of the business.
Under the current FDR and CPLR, the address at a minimum includes a city and province/state. For a dealer outside of Canada, a country should ideally be included, but is not explicitly prescribed. A full civic address including postal/zip code is also not prescribed, but it is a good practice to include it.
There are other considerations under various federal legislation, such as those governing meat, fish and agricultural products. For example, where a food is made for a named dealer, a prefix such as “Distributed by” or “Prepared for” may also be required. The IPPB in some cases serves as an anchor next to which the country of origin is stated. This too varies depending on the applicable legislation. Under the CPLR, for instance, the dealer name must be prefixed with “Imported by” or “Imported for” if a Canadian IPPB is declared on an imported food and no other federal legislation requires a country of origin declaration in a specific manner. The CPLR allows a country of origin statement, such as “Product of Mexico” next to the IPPB, as opposed to the imported by/for prefix. The IPPB, while often presented near the ingredient list and/or nutrition facts table, does not have to be there. It can be located anywhere on the label, except for any portions that are on the bottom of a container, in a type height no less than 1.6 mm.
Food labelling modernization has caught up with the IPPB. It has been doing its own thing, virtually unchanged since the 1970s. This was the era in which modern postal codes were introduced in Canada. Letter mail was the technology of the day. It stands to reason then that the address portion is built around a physical location. While things were just simpler in the ′70s, consumers are more demanding today, as are governments. Technology has introduced modern means of making connections easier and quicker, and that seems to be the future of the IPPB. But there’s a bit more to this than just a technology update. It’s not surprising that under the Safe Food for Canadians Act and its regulations (SFCR), which are anticipated to be finalized in 2018, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will be licencing businesses that import food or those involved in the interprovincial trade of food. So in the future, the dealer name will likely be that which appears on a CFIA licence. However, not all businesses will be subject to licensing, including those that are involved with intra-provincial or territorial trade of food.
IPPB modernization is slated to happen after the SFCR is finalized, and will evolve along with other CFIA initiatives. We anticipate that the CFIA will post a food labelling modernization report on its website sometime in 2017. From the discussions thus far on modernization, we can expect more explicit rules on naming the dealer, with enhanced point-of-contact information. A physical presence is still relevant, so the contact information will likely still include a city and province/state. However, the IPPB will also probably be required to include either a telephone number, email, website, scan codes or other more modern way of connecting.
Gary Gnirss is a partner and president of Legal Suites Inc., specializing in regulatory software and services. Contact him at [email protected]