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Bilingual Packaging Guidelines in Canada

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Blog April 13, 2013 by Murtuza Kitabi
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Bilingual Packaging Guidelines in Canada

What are the basic bilingual Packaging/Labelling requirements in Canada?

For products being sold nationally throughout Canada, most information on a label must be in both English and French and be of equal prominence in accordance with the “Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations” and the Quebec Charter of the French Language”.

Bilingual Requirements as stated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

All mandatory information on food labels must be shown in both official languages, i.e. French and English, with one exception: The identity and principal place of business of the person by or for whom the prepackaged product was manufactured, processed, produced or packaged for resale, may be in either English or French.

In addition, all information on the labels of the following may be in one official language only:

  • Shipping containers that are not offered for sale to consumers;
  • Local products sold in a local area in which one of the official languages is the mother tongue of less than 10 percent of the residents;
  • Official test market products; and
  • Specialty foods, as defined by the Food and Drug
  • The province of Quebec has additional requirements concerning the use of the French language on all products marketed within its jurisdiction. Information on these requirements can be found on the Website of l’Office de la langue française

French Language Charter

  • If the product is being sold in Quebec, all information on the label, carton or shipping container must be in French.
  • French must have equal prominence to another language. This means that you cannot squish the French copy to get it to fit in the same space as the English as this is not equal prominence.
  • The colours chosen for French must be equally For example, you cannot pick a bright prominent colour for English and a faded colour where the text does not stand out as much as the English.
  • The size of the letters must follow CFIA regulations and English and French must be the same
  • Labels that are not in compliance with Quebec’s language regulations are subject to fines up to $20,000.00 and are doubled for subsequent offences.
  • The administration and enforcement of regulations governing labelling for the Province of Quebec are handled by the Quebec French Language Bureau and the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ).

*Exception is trademarks that have been registered with CIPO. These are recommended to be in French, but not required.

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