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"No Claim" Food and Beverage Broadcast Advertising Clearance Exemption Policy Document

1.0 Introduction

Canadian food regulations are complex. The following information and examples have been developed by Advertising Standards Canada (ASC) Food and Beverage Section to help clients apply the principles involved in determining what constitutes "No Claim" clearance exempt advertising.

Please note the "Food and Beverage Claim" and "No Claim" descriptors and examples provided are in no way intended to be all-inclusive. For additional information about food regulations and food advertising guidelines, refer to the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations; Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising; and other Health Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada policy documents governing food advertising.

2.0 ASC Food and Beverage Section Mandate

Advertising Standards Canada Food and Beverage Section is responsible for reviewing broadcast advertising scripts to ensure compliance with the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations and the Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising. The Guide is a government policy document which interprets the Act for use by manufacturers and advertisers.

Food and Beverage Section staff review advertising copy to ensure that "no person shall label, package, treat, process, sell or advertise any food in a manner which is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to create an erroneous impression regarding its character, value, quantity, composition, merit or safety" (Subsection 5(1) Food and Drugs Act). Copy is also reviewed to ensure that opinions pertaining to nutrition, composition and market share are expressed in a manner which complies with the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations (Guide, Section B.24 - Surveys and Questionnaires).

The examples contained in this document are for illustrative purposes only, and in no way are intended to be all-inclusive.

3.0 "No Claim" Clearance Exemption Policy Statement

A broadcast advertisement for a food advertiser or for a food product, whether or not it includes audio or visual reference to brand name, trade name, or product/food category, is exempt from clearance requirement if the advertisement makes no "Food and Beverage Claim" (hereinafter individually and collectively referred to as "Food Claim") in the context of the Food & Drugs Act and Regulations and the Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising.

In this context, "Food Claim" means any direct or indirect visual (including legible visuals of labels) or auditory reference with respect to a specific brand name, trade name, or product/food category relating to: quality; ingredient/composition; nutrition/nutrition properties; health/safety/weight management; or production/processing. As well, a "Food Claim" in food advertising may make market share claims; direct or indirect comparative statements (including taste claims) regarding other foods, or about other establishments; and make research or survey claims.

If you believe your advertisement makes a "Food Claim", you are likely correct, and are advised to submit your advertising copy to ASC for review and clearance.

4.0 "No Claim" Clearance Exemption Categories

Four "No Claim" clearance exemption categories have been identified to help food broadcast advertisers easily distinguish "No Claim" from "Food Claim" copy. These categories were developed for illustrative purposes.

Food broadcast advertisements falling within one or more of the following four "No Claim" categories will be exempt from ASC Food and Beverage Section clearance: General; Occasion Greeting; Promotional; Sponsorship.

4.1 "No Claim" General Advertising

"No Claim" General advertising may not make, with respect to a specific brand name, trade name, or product/food category, any direct or indirect visual (including legible visuals of labels) or auditory reference to: quality; ingredient/composition; nutrition/nutrition properties; health/safety/weight management; or production/processing. As well, "No Claim" food advertising may not make: market share claims; direct or indirect comparative statements (including taste claims) regarding other foods, or about other establishments; or research or survey claims.

4.1.1 Examples of "No Claim" General Advertising - Clearance Exempt

(a) Clearance Exempt - "No Claim" General Advertising, e.g.

  • Come to Rosie's Steak House. Open 7 days per week on Main Street in historic Blueville. Great food, great service - fast.
  • Henry's Frozen Pizza - from microwave to table in three minutes. Delicious food on the fly. Try it today.
  • At Joe's Candy/Chocolate Shop you will find a great assortment of candies and chocolates made with you in mind. Delicious and great for gift giving. Located in downtown Blueville.
  • Joe's Ice Cream Shop has 12 ice cream flavours for your enjoyment. Located in downtown Blueville.
  • George's restaurant at the corner of Main and Centre Street in Blueville is open every night until 10 p.m., providing you with terrific food and excellent service.

(b) Clearance Exempt - "No Claim" copy stating, price, item and size (when price is stated, item and size also must be stated); and/or grade (for graded products), e.g.

  • Joe's grocery store has great specials this week: Pleasant Valley Enriched White Bread 99¢ per 675 gram loaf and Cranshaw 2% Milk $1.99 for a 4 litre bag. Located at Main and Queen and open every day till 10. Joe's has friendly service, unbelievable choice, low prices.
  • Joe's Bakery makes delicious bread in a variety of types like whole wheat, raisin and white crusty bread. We have doughnuts on sale this week for $2.00 a dozen. So come on in for the delicious bakery products and courteous service. Located at Main and Centre in Blueville.
  • Sophie's Fish & Chips - on sale for $2.99 per 2 kilogram pack at Joe's Fine Foods. Sale ends April 1.
  • Come to Joe's restaurant this week. For just $1.99 you get large fries and a medium Uncle Bob's Diet Pop*. Located at Main and Centre in Blueville.

*Note: The use of a brand name, product name, or trade name that implies dietetic properties or health claims,( e.g. "Uncle Bob's Diet Pop", "Eat-Rite Pizza Pockets" "Sugar-Free Bear Cookies"), requires clearance except when advertising is strictly limited to: "No Claim" price/item/size advertising; or to "No Claim" Occasion Greeting, Promotional, or Sponsorship advertising, as hereinafter described.

  • **Joe's (Meat Shop/Deli) has great specials this week - Cut from Canada Grade A beef, Prime Rib Roast, $4.35/kg, and T-bone Steaks, 6.99/kg, black forest ham, $.99 per 100 g. Great meats, great prices. Located at John and Centre St. in Blueville.
  • **This week's special at Mountain's 24 Hour Market: Canada Grade A Eggs $1.09 per dozen." Shop at the little market with the big heart.

**Note: When price is stated for a graded product, grade and size must also be stated.

(c) Clearance Exempt - "No Claim" copy using adjectives defining texture, e.g. chewy cold crispy crunchy crusty hot smooth tender

(d) Clearance Exempt - "No Claim" copy using subjective taste* claims, e.g. our food tastes great we think our coffee tastes great refreshing delicious

*Note: Taste claims could be subject to competitive challenge under the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards if presented in a comparative context.

4.1.2 Examples of Advertising Copy which include "Food Claims" - Clearance Required (to substantiate claims)

(a) Clearance Required for the use of the following TERMS which are viewed as "Food Claims", e.g.fresh improved natural new pure real/true/genuine

(b) Clearance Required for "Food Claims" using SUPERLATIVES and DESCRIPTORS relating to QUALITY (including taste), e.g.better/best better tasting/best tasting finest tasting higher/highest larger/largest premium superior/top/choice

(c) Clearance Required for "Food Claims" relating to INGREDIENT/COMPOSITION, e.g.

  • all/100% *farm fresh/factory fresh/fresh daily *fresh/fresher/freshest gluten-free/wheat-free kosher
  • natural no preservatives/not preserved organic pesticide-free pure real/true/genuine

*Note: The descriptor "fresh" is defined as a "Food Claim" requiring clearance except when advertising the sale of fresh fruits and vegetables, e.g. "Fresh Canada Number 1 Peaches on sale at Fred's until Sunday".

(d) Clearance required for "Food Claims" relating to NUTRITION/NUTRITION PROPERTIES*, e.g.

  • references to "Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating"; "Nutrition Recommendations for Canadians"; "Canada's Guidelines for Healthy Eating" calories/low calorie/calorie-reduced carbohydrates/low carbohydrates/high carbohydrates diet/dietetic energy enriched fat free/low fat/less fat fatty acids fibre rich/increase your fibre/high fibre good food/bad food guilt/guilty lean light representation of foods as a meal, i.e., breakfast/lunch/dinner controlled level of nutrient x source of nutrients protein/amino acids less or low salt/more salt sugar-free/no sugar added/unsweetened/ low sugar touch of sweetness/a little sweet vitamins/vitaminized

*Note: The use of a brand name, product name, or a trade name which implies a nutrition or nutrition property claim, (e.g. "Jenny's Light Crackers", "Lenny's Reduced Salt Pretzels", "Sugar-Free Bear Cookies"), requires clearance except when advertising is strictly limited to "No Claim" price/item/size advertising; or to "No Claim" Occasion Greeting, Promotional or Sponsorship advertising as hereinafter described.

(e) Clearance Required for "Food Claims" relating to HEALTH/SAFETY/WEIGHT MANAGEMENT*, e.g.

  • benefits/special properties brain food choice-wise/smart cures/eliminates bad breath eat right/eat smart energetic/gives you energy/energy boost health/healthy eating heart/heart food keep in shape/keep fit laxation (regularity) power/boost/pep references to doctors/dentists/other medical/health professionals vitality/stamina wakes you up/calms you down weight loss/gain

*Note: The use of a brand name, product name, or a trade name which implies a health, safety or weight management claim, e.g. ("Uncle Bob's Diet Pop", "Martha's Lean Menu Entrées", "Healthy Alternative Brand Juice Cocktails"), requires clearance except when advertising is strictly limited to "No Claim" price/item/size advertising; or to "No Claim" Occasion Greeting, Promotional or Sponsorship advertising as hereinafter described.

(f) Clearance Required for "Food Claims" relating to PRODUCTION/PROCESSING, e.g. flame-broiled home-made made every day/made all day made from scratch made by hand oven-roasted rotisserie stoneground

(g) Clearance Required for "Food Claims" relating to descriptions of PRODUCT INGREDIENTS OR COMPONENTS, e.g.Our chicken sandwich is made with tender chicken breast only. We use only organic flour to make our bread. Our granola bar is made with real fruit.

(h) Clearance Required for "Food Claims" relating to, or implying, MARKET SHARE, (require substantiation), e.g.Number one fruity bar in Canada Canada's favourite candy bar Ontario's first choice Sudbury's most popular

(i) Clearance Required for COMPARATIVE "Food Claims", (require substantiation), e.g.Tommy's Snacks Inc. sells the best tasting chocolate chip cookie in the country. Our burgers contain more beef than any other restaurant in town.

4.2 "No Claim" Occasion Greeting Advertising

"No Claim" Occasion Greeting advertising is an advertisement which mentions the occasion that triggers the advertisement and/or one or more of the following:

(i) the name of the advertiser; (ii) the name of a food brand/product; (iii) one or more other feature(s) or aspect(s) of the occasion or product

but does not make a "Food Claim", as defined in 3.0.

4.2.1 Examples of Acceptable "No Claim" Occasion Greeting Advertising - Clearance Exempt

  • At this time of year, your friends from Patrick's Milk Inc. wish you health and happiness.
  • Happy St. Patrick's Day from all your friends at O'Leary's Milk Palace.
  • The makers of Uncle Bob's Cola wish you and your family a [Happy Thanksgiving/Merry Christmas/Happy Easter/Happy Hanuka/Happy Valentine's Day].
  • Bernie's Bakery, bakers of fantastic blueberry pies, wishes you and your family the best of the season.

4.2.2 Example of Occasion Greeting Advertising Including "Food Claims" - Clearance Required (to substantiate claims)

  • At this time of year, the staff at Uncle Bob's Brand Soft Drinks would like to wish you and your family a [Happy Thanksgiving/Merry Christmas/Happy Easter/Happy Hanuka/Happy Valentine's Day]. Uncle Bob's Brand Soft Drinks ? the makers of the number one soft drink in Canada*. Pick some up today for the [holiday] season."

*Note: Claim is for market share, which requires substantiation.

4.3 "No Claim" Promotional Advertising

"No Claim" Promotional advertising is an advertisement which mentions the promotion/contest that triggers the advertisement and/or one or more of the following:

(i) the name of the advertiser; (ii) the name of a food brand/product; (iii) one or more feature(s) or aspects of the promotion/contest or product

but does not make a "food claim", as defined in 3.0.

4.3.1 Examples of Acceptable "No Claim" Promotional Advertising - Clearance Exempt

  • George's Restaurant will give a free 355 ml can of Uncle Bob's Cola with any full-priced purchase of George's Famous Hamburger.
  • This week Robert's Donut Shoppe will be giving away a free gas barbecue. Come on down to Robert's, fill out a ballot, and you could be barbecuing all summer long.
  • George's Restaurant is proud to announce the opening of a new restaurant in Blueville. This Saturday only, free balloons for the kids. No purchase necessary.
  • While supplies last, with every Glory Candy Bar you buy, you have a 1 in 10 chance of winning a free medium loaded pizza from Joe's Pizza Places. Details on specially marked Glory Bars.
  • You can win a compact stereo system. Details on specially marked boxes of Dynamic Crunch Cereal Bars.

4.3.2 Examples of Promotional Advertising Including "Food Claims" - Clearance Required (to substantiate claims)

  • Starting this Saturday, with every purchase of our light and lean* burger at George's Restaurants, 50¢ will be donated to the Jogging Foundation.

*Note: "light" and "lean" are defined nutrient and composition claims, which require disclosure of nutrition information to substantiate the claim.

  • Come to George's Restaurant today. With a purchase of any of our meal* deals you get a free toy.

*Note: The claim is for a "meal", which is a defined term in the Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising and the Food & Drugs Act and Regulations and requires substantiation.

4.4 "No Claim" Sponsorship Advertising

"No Claim" Sponsorship Advertising is an advertisement which mentions the sponsored program/event that triggers the advertisement; and/or one or more of the following:

(i) the name of the advertiser; (ii) the name of a food brand/product; (iii) one or more feature(s) or aspect(s) of the sponsored program/event or product

but does not make a "food claim", as defined in 3.0.

However, clearance is required (a) for advertiser, brand, or product sponsorship of messages mentioning medical/health organizations or facilities; and (b) for implied or stated endorsements of food products by medical/health professional organizations, in both cases to ensure compliance with applicable regulations and guidelines.

4.4.1 Examples of Acceptable "No Claim" Sponsorship Advertising - Clearance Exempt

  • The Canadian Free Style Wrestling Championship broadcast is brought to you by Uncle Bob's Diet Pop (or Uncle Bob's Pop).
  • Come on down to the weekend CJOB FM Beach Party to celebrate the arrival of summer. This event is brought to you by Al's Garage, Lilly's Floral Fantasies, and Joe Sweet's Fine Italian Pastries.
  • Tiny Tots First Invitational Song Fest is brought to you by Carol's Candy Shop in historic Blueville.

4.4.2 Example of Sponsorship Advertising Including "Food Claims" - Clearance Required (to substantiate claims)

  • The makers of Scott's Cereal are a proud sponsor* of Georgetown's Health Unit Nutrition Month*.

*Note: Clearance is required for advertiser, brand or product sponsorship of messages mentioning medical/ health organizations or facilities to ensure compliance with applicable regulations and guidelines.

  • The National Health Coalition for Nutrition* invites you to visit participating restaurants this month to enjoy special menu items* which feature controlled levels of fat, cholesterol and sodium.

*Note: Clearance is required for implied or stated endorsements of food products by medical/health professional organizations to ensure compliance with applicable regulations and guidelines.

  • The Dynamos on WJET brought to you by Uncle Bob's Pop, Canada's number one* soft drink.

*Note: Claim is for market share which requires substantiation.

  • The Dynamos on WJET brought to you by Uncle Bob's Diet Pop*, Canada's number one** soft drink.

*Note: The use of a brand name, product name, or a trade name which implies a health, safety or weight management claim, (e.g., "Uncle Bob's Diet Pop", "Martha's Lean Menu Entrées", "Healthy Alternative Brand Juice Cocktails"), requires clearance except when advertising is strictly limited to "No Claim" price/item/size advertising; or to "No Claim" Occasion Greeting, Promotional, or Sponsorship advertising as herein described.

**Note: Claim is for market share which requires substantiation.

5.0 Voluntary Submissions of "No Claim" Scripts

Advertisers may continue submitting scripts to the ASC Food and Beverage Section for evaluation. In these cases, the applicable clearance fees will be charged, and scripts will be assigned ASC clearance numbers.

6.0 Compliance Issues

Ultimately it is the advertiser's responsibility to take appropriate measures to ensure its advertisements do not violate applicable laws, regulations and guidelines. The Canadian broadcaster's responsibility is to refrain from broadcasting anything contrary to the law; comply with CRTC's requirements pertaining to commercial content; and adhere to commercial clearance policies set by the CRTC. For complete information about food advertising regulations and guidelines, refer to: The Food and Drugs Act and Regulations; the Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising; and to other Health Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada policy documents governing food advertising.

Advertising Standards Canada's role is to assist advertisers and broadcasters by executing its responsibility in a consistent and professional manner. In those instances where ASC becomes aware that a food commercial is making food claims that were not approved by the Food and Beverage Section, ASC will ask the advertiser to comply with food copy review procedure. If the advertiser declines or refuses, ASC will ask CAB to request its member stations to not carry the unapproved advertising until it has been cleared by ASC, or until the food claims have been deleted.