Is Canada ripe for a food label fight?

Sonia Bjorkquist, Lindsay Rauccio

Nov 28, 2014

The Lawyers Weekly


The Safe Foods for Canadians Act, S.C. 2012, c. 24, is expected to come into force in 2015, reinforcing our culture of safe food and clear information for consumers. The key drivers of food litigation are now well known, such that industry participants can mitigate risk with careful planning. What are the key takeaways from headlining cases?

Learn from tainted food cases that the cost and impact of a recall can be mitigated by:

  • preparing robust recall protocols that address consumer safety, minimize expense and deter litigation;
  • improving contracts with suppliers, vendors and distributors to maximize product control from farm to table;
  • enhancing employee training (and ensuring partners do also); and
  • applying best practices in testing and monitoring.

Learn from pharmaceutical litigation that regulatory approval is no bar to litigation about product risks. Avoid litigation about perceived failures to warn of harmful effects by:

  • knowing the latest science;
  • warning clearly of risks; and
  • monitoring changing laws and guidelines in every jurisdiction.

Learn from U.S. litigation regarding “all natural,” “non-GMO,” “gluten free” and “low fat” claims. Avoid labelling litigation by:

  • representing your product clearly and accurately;
  • avoiding depictions of ingredients that are only present in trace amounts; and
  • monitoring ingredient suppliers for quality and consistency with product claims.

Learn from litigation regarding health benefit claims. Avoid litigation by:

  • seeking appropriate pre-approvals;
  • monitoring new scientific information and studies; and
  • being ready to support health benefit representations.

Although such measures cannot eliminate risk (and certainly come at a price), if properly implemented they can minimize health risks, litigation risk, recall costs and important indirect costs like loss of brand equity and share value.

Read the full article.

Learn more in our Food Product Liability in Canada white paper