Fraudulent Packaged On Dates

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Retail Food Officers have found that many grocery retailers are not maintaining the original "packaged on" dates when they rewrap food products.

Failure to retain the original "packaged on" date may result in prosecution under the Food and Drugs Act.

The "packaged on" date is referred to as "packaging date" in the Food and Drugs Regulations.

These Regulations, as amended May 19, 1988, defines "packaging date" as:

  • "the date on which a food is placed for the first time in a package in which it will be offered for sale to a consumer,
    or
  • the date on which a prepackaged product is weighed by a retailer in a package in which it will be offered for sale for the first time to a consumer".

Foods that bear a packaging date and are repackaged by a retailer must maintain the original packaging date applied when the product was first packed or weighed.

Alterations to the product itself such as trimming, deboning, muscle separation and grinding may require a change in common name. However, you still have the same, or part of the same product and the original packaging date is required. If the product is removed from the display and used along with a significant amount of other ingredients to create a new product, or is cooked or cured, then the original packaging date is rendered meaningless. In this circumstance, a new date may be used. The retailer must consider the age and condition of the product when deciding the appropriate durable life information.

The information bulletin "Durable Life Dating of Foods" provides additional details on the labelling requirements with respect to durable life dating.

It is an offence under the Food and Drugs Act to label, package or sell any food in a manner that is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to create an erroneous impression regarding its character, value, quantity, composition, merit or safety.

As a retailer, it is your obligation to ensure all employees involved in packaging and labelling food products are aware of this requirement. Your quality assurance program should include monitoring your staff's adherence to this requirement.

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