Memo to clarify policy on the term "misleading", as it appears in the Fertilizers Regulations
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This policy document is intended to clarify the meaning of the terms "incorrect", "misleading", "deceive" or "mislead" as they appear in Section 19. (2) of the Fertilizers Regulations. For the purpose of this document, the term "misleading" is intended to address all of these terms as listed above.
In April, 2013, the Fertilizers Regulations were amended to remove responsibilities and authorities over quality and efficacy parameters. Specifically, the Fertilizers Regulations were amended to remove all requirements to substantiate efficacy as well as all quality standards, numerical criteria and tolerances.
Previously, the term "misleading" in the Fertilizers Regulations was interpreted to be associated with claims pertaining to the safety, quality or efficacy of the product. However, with the renewed focus on safety of fertilizer and supplement products, the term "misleading" remains in the Fertilizers Regulations in relation to claims which impact on the safety of the fertilizer/supplement product.
Section 19. (2) of the Fertilizers Regulations maintains reference to "misleading" on fertilizer / supplement product labels:
19. (2) A label referred to in subsection (1) shall not have printed thereon
(a) any incorrect or misleading information or mark; or
(b) a brand or name that would tend to deceive or mislead a purchaser with respect to the composition or utility of the product to which the label relates.
The current interpretation of the term "misleading" now relates solely to the safety of the product, and associated claims (i.e. information, mark, brand, name) which may impact on the safety of the product.
In the review of a fertilizer/supplement product, the Fertilizer Safety Section ensures that the product is considered to be safe for humans, plants, animals, and the environment when used according to label directions. A comprehensive safety review (based on label directions) is completed by the Fertilizer Safety Section. It is based upon this review of the product and associated application/use parameters that a product is granted approval (and registration, if applicable).
It is intended that no product label will make claims or references to mislead the consumer regarding the safety of the product. This reflects the presumption that the product is not to be used outside of the scope of the approved parameters indicated in the label text.
Examples of "misleading" information
Information Outside of Scope of "Misleading"
The Fertilizer Safety Section of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will not regulate and enforce label statements pertaining to efficacy and/or quality, for example:
- claims pertaining to environmental benefits (e.g. organic, natural, environmentally sound, balanced, healthy, greener, slowly available plant nutrients, improving soil structure, testimonials/endorsements, etc.);
- claims pertaining to performance of product (e.g. greener/taller plants, improves yields); and
- comparative claims against another product/product type (e.g. best, better, superior, faster-acting, etc.).
Please note that claims pertaining to the activity of the product may change the classification of your product, potentially even changing the requirement for registration of your product, for example:
- references or statements claiming pesticidal activity of the product when the component of the product contributing to this activity has not been registered/approved under the Pest Control Products Act; and
- references or statements indicating supplement activity (i.e. not attributed to plant nutrients, e.g. increases water holding capacity, microbial activity, etc.) when the product has been represented as a fertilizer.
If you have any questions related to this document, please contact:
Fertilizer Safety Section
c/o Pre-market Application Submissions Office (PASO)
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
59 Camelot Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0Y9
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