When labelling your products, there are legal requirements set out in Canada's Food and Drug Regulations that must be followed. These include rules about:
- naming your products and French translations
- declaring the net quantity of the product
- declaring the alcohol by volume
- declaring your identity and principal place of business
- listing your ingredients
These rules are described below. For more details, visit the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website:
When naming your product, you must include its common name. The common name is the standard name by which the product is known in Canada. For example, "beer," "wine" and "rum" are all common names in Canada.
The common name is different from your brand name. You can be creative with product names, as long as you include the common name on the label.
The common name must appear in both English and French. Some common product names and their French translations are:
- gin (bilingual)
- vodka (bilingual)
Some common product names are considered bilingual. This means you don't need to translate any of these names to French. Bilingual names include (in alphabetical order): Ale, Liqueur, Gin, Porter, Rye Whisky, Stout and Vodka.
Common names for beer
Beer must use specific common names based on its alcohol content. These names must also appear in French, unless they are listed as bilingual above.
|Percentage of alcohol by volume (ABV)||Qualified common names or common names|
|1.1 to 2.5%||Extra Light Beer, Extra Light Ale, Extra Light Stout, Extra Light Porter|
|2.6 to 4.0%||Light Beer, Light Ale, Light Stout, Light Porter|
|4.1 to 5.5%||Beer, Ale, Stout, Porter|
|5.6 to 8.5%||Strong Beer, Strong Ale, Strong Stout, Strong Porter, Malt Liqueur|
|8.6% or more||Extra Strong Beer, Extra Strong Ale, Extra Strong Stout, Extra Strong Porter, Strong Malt Liqueur|
Product size (net quantity declaration)
The net quantity must appear in metric units of volume.
- if the product size is less than one litre, it must be shown in millilitres (for example, 750 ml)
- if the product size is one litre or larger, it must be shown in litres (for example, 2 L)
Alcohol by volume declaration
The alcohol content of your product must be shown in one of the following ways:
- "X% alcohol by volume"
- "X% alc./vol."
- "alc. X% vol."
Identity and principal place of business declaration
You must declare your company name and location on your labels. This must include enough accurate information so that someone could get in touch with the company.
Your identity is the legal or corporate name under which your company operates that is registered with the federal or provincial government. For example: Jane's Meadery Ltd. or John's Brewing Inc.
The principal place of business must lead to the main physical location of your company. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency encourages manufacturers to provide a mailing address that is complete enough that consumers can contact the company.
- the principal place of business should include your address, city, province, postal code and country
- websites, phone numbers and email addresses can be included on a label; however, they're not acceptable as a "principal place of business", since they're not physical locations
List of ingredients
You do not need to include a list of ingredients on the labels of "standardized alcoholic beverages", as long as they comply with standards in Division 2 of the Food and Drug Regulation. This includes beer, wine and rum.
Unstandardized alcoholic beverages have no standard in Division 2 of the Food and Drug Regulation. For example, products such as coolers (refreshment beverages), flavoured rum, flavoured vodka or flavoured gin require a complete list of ingredients and their components.