Monitoring of Seed Mixtures – Application of a 20% Tolerance to Labelled Percentages and to Some Standards

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The Seeds Regulations (the Regulations) require that the percentages of the components are stated on the label for some seed mixtures. Minor differences between the intended and actual percentages of components of a seed mixture are expected due to random sampling and challenges in creating mixtures with precise component percentages.

Therefore, when the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) monitors seed mixtures in the marketplace, the CFIA allows for a 20% tolerance regarding the percentages of labelled components and certain standards before the seed is considered non-compliant with the Regulations. No compliance activity is initiated by the CFIA if the CFIA's test result is within plus/minus 20% of the labelled percentages or standard of interest.

The 20% tolerance is applied when:

  1. the seed label indicates a percentage of a component of a mixture; or,
  2. the Regulations specify, in percentages, certain standards for components of mixtures.

The above scenarios are explained in detail below. The 20% tolerance is applied to each component or standard individually and not to the overall composition of the mixture. For example, if the label on a cereal mixture indicates that it contains 30% oats and 70% barley, then the actual percentage of the oats component could vary by plus/minus 6% (20% of 30% = 6%) and not 30% plus/minus 20%.

A) Labelled Percentages for Components of Mixtures

Table 1 summarizes the basic requirements for labelling names and percentages of components of mixtures as well as some additional minor labelling requirements for components.

Cereal Mixtures (Table III of Schedule I to the Regulations)

Cereal Mixtures must be labelled with the name and percentage by weight of each kind or species of seed in the mixture. The 20% tolerance applies to the labelled percentages of the components in a Cereal Mixture.

Forage Seed Mixtures (Table XIII)

Forage Mixtures must be labelled with the name and percentage of each kind of seed that exceeds the percentage specified in the Regulations. The 20% tolerance applies to the labelled percentages of the components in a Forage Seed Mixture.

Lawn or Turf Mixtures (Table XIV) and Ground Cover Mixtures (Table XV)

Lawn or Turf Mixtures (if >5 kg of seed) and Ground Cover Mixtures must be labelled with the name of each kind or species that exceeds the percentage specified in the Regulations. Note that it is not required to label the actual percentages of the components for Lawn or Turf Mixtures.

Voluntary Labelling

The 20% tolerance applies to all mixtures where the percentages of the components are labelled whether or not it is a regulatory requirement to label the percentage. For example, labelling of component crop kinds of a Lawn Mixture is not required by the Regulations but if the label indicates the percentages of the components, the CFIA's monitoring test result must be within plus/minus 20% of the labelled percentages of the components.

Table 1– Labelling of Names and Percentages of Components in Seed Mixtures "At-a-glance" Table Note 1
Table description

The following table describes the labelling requirements for seed mixtures. The table has six columns: "Grade Table", "Crop Kinds", "Reference in the Regulations", "Label requirements: Name of each component species in mixture", "Label requirements: Percentage of each component species in mixture", and "Does CFIA apply a 20% tolerance to the labelled percentage?".

Grade Table Crop Kinds Reference in the Regulations Label requirements: Name of each component species in mixture Label requirements: Percentage of each component species in mixture Does CFIA apply a 20% tolerance to the labelled percentage?
All All kinds 15(2)(b) Correct and not misleading Correct and not misleading n/a
III Cereal Mixtures 24(1)(c) Yes, all Yes, all Yes
XIII Forage Mixtures 25(f) If ≥ 5% red clover, label "double-cut" or "single-cut", "DC" or "SC", "type not known" Yes, if ≥ 3% Yes
XIII Forage Mixtures 26(1)(c) Yes, if ≥ 3%
(for sweet clover: yes, if ≥ 1%)
Yes, if ≥ 3%
(for sweet clover: yes, if ≥ 1%)
Yes
XIII Forage Mixtures 26(1)(d) No requirement to label name if < 3%
(or < 1% (sweet clover))
State "Other kinds xx%" for total % of all species in the mixture not stated on the label Yes
XIII Forage Mixtures 26(1)(e) If imported alfalfa or imported red clover, label:
  • country of origin of production; and
  • state of origin of production (if from the US)
Yes (imported alfalfa)
Yes (imported red clover)
No
XIII Forage Mixtures 26(2) Voluntary labelling of any species ≥ 1% Voluntary labelling of % of any species ≥ 1% Yes
XIV Lawn or Turf Mixtures 28(1)(c)

Yes, if package has > 5 kg of seed, the name of each species that is:
≥ 5%
(or ≥ 3% (bentgrasses)
or ≥ 2% (white clover))

No n/a
XIV Lawn or Turf Mixtures 28(2) Yes, if name is stated in a manner to emphasize that species or to the exclusion of the other species Yes
XV Ground
Cover
Mixtures
29(2)(c)(i)
29(2)(c)(ii)
Yes, if ≥ 5%
Yes, if listed in any provincial legislation as a noxious or restricted weed
No n/a
XV Ground
Cover
Mixtures
29(3) Yes, if name is stated in a manner to emphasize that species or to the exclusion of the other species Yes
Must meet minimum purity standards Grazing, reclamation,
wildflower mixtures, etc.
30(b) Yes, all No No

Table Notes

Table Note 1

Note that all percentages are to be interpreted as 'percentage by weight'.

Return to table note 1  referrer

B) Other specified standards to which the 20% tolerance applies

Standards stated in percentages

The CFIA also applies a 20% tolerance where the Regulations specify a standard stated as a percentage for a specific requirement for certain mixtures.

  1. Lawn or Turf Mixtures may not contain more than 30% by weight singly or 40% combined of red top, crested wheatgrass, timothy (dwarf-type) or annual ryegrass (Group B, Part II, Table XIV, Schedule I to the Regulations). The 20% tolerance applies to the requirement to contain less than 30% singly, or 40% combined, of these species in Lawn or Turf Mixtures.
  2. All Lawn or Turf Mixtures described on a label to be suitable for shady places may contain not less than 40% by weight, singly or combined, of Chewing's fescue, creeping red fescue or rough bluegrass seed (subsection 7(10) of the Regulations). The 20% tolerance applies to the requirement to contain at least 40% of these species in Lawn or Turf Mixtures labelled to be suitable for shady places.

Specialty Seed

Specialty seed (e.g., seed mixed with fertilizer, soil, etc.) must be labelled to indicate the approximate percentage or net quantity of seed in the product (subsection 31(1) of the Regulations). The 20% tolerance applies to the approximate percentage of seed in the specialty seed product.

Table 2 – Example of the Application of the 20% Tolerance to a Cereal Mixture
Table description

The following table is an example of the application of the 20% tolerance to a cereal mixture of barley and oats. The table has four columns: "Components of Cereal Mixture A", "Labelled %", "20% Tolerance", and "Permissible range".

Components of Cereal Mixture A Labelled % 20% Tolerance Permissible range
Barley 70% +/- 14% 56% to 84%
Oats 30% +/- 6% 24% to 36%

In this example, the barley component is labelled at 70% and the oats component is labelled at 30%. In CFIA's monitoring activities, the barley component is permitted to test to 70% plus/minus 14% (20% of 70%) before the mixture would be considered non-compliant. As such, the range of the barley component may be 56 to 84% when it is labelled at 70%. Similarly, the oats component is permitted to be 30% plus/minus 6% (20% of 30%, i.e., 24 to 36%).

Note, however, that if the Barley was 84% of the mixture, (within the 20% tolerance), then the oats component would be only 16% and would be out of compliance with the labelled 30% and the mixture would be non-compliant.

Table 3 – Example of the Application of 20% Tolerance to a Forage Mixture
Table description

The following table is an example of the application of the 20% tolerance to a mixture of forage grasses. The table has four columns labeled: "Components of Forage Mixture B", "Labelled %", "20% Tolerance", and "Permissible range".

Components of Forage Mixture B Labelled % 20% Tolerance Permissible range
Timothy 40% +/- 8% 32% to 48%
Red Top 25% +/- 5% 20% to 30%
Sheep Fescue 20% +/- 4% 16% to 24%
Meadow Foxtail 7% +/- 1.4% 5.6% to 8.4%
Meadow Fescue 5% +/- 1% 4% to 6%
Russian Wildrye Table Note 2 1% +/- 0.2% 0.8% to 1.2%
Other kinds 2% +/- 0.4% 1.6% to 2.4%

Table Notes

Table Note 2

Note that it is not required by the Regulations to label the name and percentage of the Russian Wildrye component (1%) as it is less than 3%; instead, its name and percentage could be included in 'Other kinds' on the label. However, if it is labelled individually, the percentage must be accurate and the 20% tolerance will be applied in CFIA monitoring activities.

Return to table note 2  referrer

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