Organic PLU stickers on bulk fresh fruits and vegetables
In general, there are no regulatory requirements on PLU stickers on fresh produce in Canada. However, there are bilingual labelling requirements for the Quebec marketplace and labelling requirements for bulk organic produce.
Q1: If an organic claim is made on a PLU sticker of a fresh fruit or vegetable, do I need to include the name of the certification body that has certified the product as organic?
A: Yes, if an organic claim is made on a label accompanying a bulk product, such as on a sticker, then the name of the certification body must also appear on this label. This applies to the use of organic claims and the organic logo on a Price Look-Up (PLU) sticker (SFCR 354, CFIA industry labelling tool).
Q2: Does an organic claim need to appear on the label in French and English?
A: Yes, an organic claim must appear on the label in both French and English, unless the food commodity is a feed, seed, or a bilingual labelling exemption applies to the product (SFCR, 355).
Abbreviations such as “bio” for the French organic word “biologique” are acceptable (SFCR, 353).
If this product is being shipped to Quebec, labelling must meet the regulations in Quebec regarding the French prominence rule. The prominence rule means any inscriptions on a product in a language other than French cannot be given greater prominence than that in French, with the exception of certain exemptions (Charter of French Language, Chapter C011, Chapter VII, Sections 51 and 52). Prominence refers to same size, colour, bolding, shading, etc. This means the French organic claim must be as prominent as the English organic claim.
Q3: Can an acronym be used instead of the name of the certification body?
A: Ideally, the label would state the full name of the certification body, but the abbreviation could be acceptable provided it gives enough information to identify the certification body (e.g. if the acronym appears in the list of CFIA accredited certification bodies along with the name, or if it is searchable on the web).
Q4: Can a logo of the certification body be used instead of the “name” of the certification body that has certified the body as organic?
A: The logo can be used if the full name (or acronym, as described above) of the certification body is present within the company logo, and the name is readily discernible and legible to the purchaser. If the certification body logo does not include the full name of the certification body or acronym, the logo may voluntarily be displayed, but the full name or acronym should be present elsewhere on the label.
Q5: Do words like, “Certified by,” which precede the name of the certification body that has certified the body as organic, need to appear on the PLU sticker?
A: No, words like “certified by” are voluntary. If included and the product is to enter the Quebec market, these words will need to be translated to French and be as prominent, to comply with Quebec language laws. Please refer to question 2 for more information.
Q6: If a PLU sticker contains the prefix “9” in front of the PLU sticker, would this be considered an organic claim and trigger organic labelling requirements?
A: As per the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the sole use of the prefix “9” in the PLU code to classify a food as organic for the purpose of price and inventory lookup would not be considered an “organic” claim. However, in Quebec, the prefix “9” in the PLU code is considered an organic claim, and would trigger all organic labelling information, including the name of the certification body that has certified the product as organic. CPMA is working with provincial partners to raise this issue with Quebec regulators.
Q7: If the name of the certification body on the label contains the word “organic” (i.e. John’s Organic company), would this be considered an organic claim and not require additional organic wording, other than the French translation of organic?
A: The presence of the word “organic” in the name of the certification body, or in the name of the company, would trigger the requirements applicable to Part 13 of the SFCR.
Q8: Can I use the Canada Organic logo on my PLU sticker?
A: The use of the organic logo is only permitted on products that have an organic content that is greater than or equal to 95% and have been certified according to the requirements of the Canada Organic Regime. The use of the organic logo is voluntary but when used it is subject to the requirements of the SFCR [359(1), SFCR].
Imported products must meet the requirements of the Canada Organic Regime. Imported products that bear the logo must include:
- the statement "Product of", immediately preceding the name of the country of origin, or
- the word "Imported", in close proximity to the logo
These must appear on the label in both French and English, unless a bilingual labelling exemption applies [354(d), 355(1), SFCR].
For more information on organic labelling requirements, please visit CFIA’s industry labelling tool: Organic claims on food labels. As a CPMA member, you are also entitled to two complimentary label reviews per membership year.
If you have any questions, please contact Jen Ong Tone, Dietitian at email@example.com