Graphical and Technical Requirements
The Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) prescribe each component of how and where nutrition information must be displayed on prepackaged food. Consult the Nutrition Facts Table Formats to determine the right size and type for your product and packaging.
Once you have determined the format that is best suited to your needs, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of graphical and technical requirements. To help you, we have put together a summary of each component that you will need to consider when creating your label and a link to templates you can use in your design. Make sure you consult the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) website before finalizing your design to ensure your label complies with all FDR regulations.
Must be in both official languages unless otherwise exempt.
The Nutrition Facts table (NFt) must be on one continuous surface. This definition includes small “rounded” angles that allow the customer to visually follow the information.
The NFt must be oriented the same way as the other information on the label. If there is not enough room on the label to do this, the table may be tipped on its side but make sure the package will not leak or be damaged if people tilt it to read the nutrition information.
The NFt must be visible on the exterior facing surface at the time of sale. There are exceptions to this. Read here to see if your package qualifies.
There is a specific order that the information must be listed in and the core nutrients must always be declared in this way with the units shown in the applicable format. Read here for full details on the order of presentation.
- Single non-decorative sans serif
- Do not use italics
- Do not use more than one font
- Use the same font size (unless prescribed otherwise like in headings for example)
- Generally, a 12 point Arial font but this will depend on the size of your NFt. Consult the Directory of Nutrition Facts Table Formats if you are not following the standard format.
Clarity and Legibility
A Nutrition Facts table is useless if you can’t read it. Some printing processes may cause the text to expand or bleed, which would require a larger NFt to make it legible. Make sure to discuss this with your printer.
Leading or linespacing is the space between lines of type. In the standard format NFt pictured at the top of this article, the word “Calories” has a 10 point bold type with a 14.5 leading.
We aren’t talking about the FDR rules here, this is a term to describe horizontal and vertical lines on the NFt. In the standard format listed above, the NFt must be enclosed by a box with a 0.5 point rule (thickness of the rule) within 3 points of the text. Keep in mind that these rules do not affect the leading measurement as the rule is a line, not a line of type. If you are not using a standard format NFt, the size of the rules may be different.
Indents are pretty straightforward, but one thing to keep in mind is where it is measured from. In the standard format, “Saturated” is listed under “Fat”. While “Fat” is 3 points away from the edge of the border box, the required 6 point indent for “saturated” starts from the “F” in Fat, not from the edge of the box around the NFt.
No matter what beautiful, on-brand design you have come up with for your goods, the Nutrition Facts table must still be displayed in basic black and white. This is black ink on white background and may not be reversed. There is some wiggle room in the following cases:
- Backgrounds may apply a tint up to a maximum of 5%.
- In cases where there is no black ink used in the printing process, another dark colour is allowed.
- In cases where the NFt is printed directly onto the packaging material, a darker background may be accepted. An example would be brown paper bread bags or styrofoam egg cartons.
Altering the NFt Rectangle Size
When trying to fit a NFt onto a packaging label, you may want to alter the size. If you are looking at this option, the main goal is to maintain clarity and legibility. Here are some things to look out for.
- Making the NFt rectangle smaller
- It is OK to narrow your NFt but you must be careful to avoid overcrowding and not reduce the size of leading or fonts
- Ensure there is a minimum of 2 spaces between the left column and the “% Daily Value” column on the right
- Making the NFt rectangle larger
- Readers must be able to visibly follow the line of information from the nutrient name to the % DV
- All characters must be enlarged proportionately
- If adding white space, it must be done without any impact on the size of the characters or leading
- Changing the shape of the NFt to fit the package design
- There is no wiggle room here. A Nutrition Facts table must be a rectangle with right angles in each corner. The shape may not be tapered or otherwise modified to fit the container.
Dividing the Information on the NFt
Splitting the information into 2 is generally only allowed when additional information is provided. Read here for more details about when this is allowed.
Destruction of the Nutrition Facts Table Upon Opening of Package
Generally, the NFt must not be placed in an area where it will be destroyed when the package is opened. This does not apply to single use containers of food (like a can of soft drink for example).
Abbreviations and Symbols in the Nutrition Facts Table
Abbreviations can save space but they can also interfere with comprehension. For this reason, only the abbreviations below are allowed. These are followed with an asterisk (*) that links to an explanation of the meaning elsewhere on the table.
- % Daily Value or % DV
- Vit for vitamin
- kJ for kilojoules
Abbreviations may also be used for the following measurements:
- g for grams
- mL for millilitres
- mg for milligrams
- tsp for teaspoon
- tbsp for tablespoon
Presentation of Certain Additional Material
The energy value may be declared in kilojoules (kJ), within parentheses, after the declaration of Calories as additional information.
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids line up differently depending on whether the polyunsaturates are declared separately or not.
Tailoring of the Linear Format and Language Specifications
The linear format displays the same information as the standard format but without columns. It is allowed in unilingual formats only. This is best used for small packages and packages where the configuration doesn’t allow for a larger Nutrition Facts table.
The use of templates for this format is limited. Read here for more information and examples for formatting a linear format NFt.
This consistency in design that results from the Food and Drug Regulations allows for better comprehension by those it was created for. Ensuring you have the right design and printing process allows you to present a professional product to your customers.
For more questions regarding your package design and the Nutrition Facts table, consult the Government of Canada Nutrition Labelling website.
Contact us at 250-493-3201 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions regarding the design or printing of your packaging label.